- The stock market failed to live up to the optimism prompted by the previous week's support of equities as an investment class.
- Small reversals continue to be regarded as the prelude to an overdue correction.
- While market advances may be viewed as an entitlement by some, the gifts shouldn't disarm a natural sense of caution.
In the past month, Janet Yellen has reaffirmed the commitment to keeping stocks the preferred investment vehicle, yet after the initial euphoria, skepticism and askance looks greeted any attempts to set even more new record highs.
For stock investors the greatest gift of all was there, delivered on a platter, just waiting to be taken advantage of this past week. But we didn't do so, maybe having learned a lesson from Greek mythology and avoiding obvious and superficial temptation.
Unfortunately, the application of that lesson may have been misguided as the temptations offered by the Federal Reserve had already run fairly deep, having already been acknowledged to have fueled much of the years-long rally in stocks.
Instead of focusing on accepting and making good use of the gifts this past week, it didn't take long to re-ignite talk of the beginning of the long overdue correction after a failed start to the week's trading.
The week itself was a bizarre one with some fairly odd stories diverting attention from what really mattered.
There was the frivolous news of a wildly successful potato salad Kickstarter campaign, the inconsequential news of the demise of Crumbs (NASDAQ:CRMB), the laughably sad news of the sudden appearance of a seemingly phony social media company in Belize with a $5 billion market capitalization while the SEC slept, and feel good news of LeBron James taking his talents back to the fine people of Cleveland.
Somewhere in-between was also the news that a Portuguese bank was having some difficulty paying back short-term debt obligations.
Talk of an impending correction came before this week's FOMC statement release, which did much to erase the previous two days of weakness, but it was short lived, as fears related to the European banking system swept through the European markets and made their ways to our shores on Thursday.
This was yet another week when the market wasn't willing to accept the assurance of continuing gifts from the Federal Reserve after the initial giddiness upon the delivery of its news. While we all know that sooner or later the gifts from the Federal Reserve will slow down and then stop altogether in advance of that time when it actually begins to impede our overfed avarice, there isn't too much reason to refuse the gifts that are still there to be given. While perhaps those gifts could be viewed as an entitlement, perhaps the additional lesson learned is that we are resilient enough to not allow a natural sense of cautionary behavior to be disarmed.
Somehow, I doubt that's the case, just as I doubt that Greek mythology has taught very many or lasting lessons to many of us lately.
As usual, the week's potential stock selections are classified as being in Traditional, Double Dip Dividend, Momentum or "PEE" categories.
Puts I sold on Bed Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) that I sold a few weeks ago expired this past week, as they were within easy range of assignment or in need of rollover on Friday until murmurings of a leveraged buyout started to lift shares.
Had those murmurings waited until sometime on Monday I might have considered them as a gift, as I wanted to now add shares to my portfolio. However, coming as they did, although securing the ability to see the puts sold expire worthless, may have snatched a gift away, as I rarely want to chase a stock once it has started moving higher. However, on any weakness that sees shares trading lower to begin the week, I would be anxious to add shares as I believe Bed Bath & Beyond was already in recovery mode from the strong selling pressure after it reported earnings a few weeks ago.
The Gap (NYSE:GPS) continues to be one of the dwindling few that report monthly sales statistics. As it does, it regularly has paroxysms of movement when those statistics are released. Rarely does it string together more than two successive months of consistent data, such that its share price bounces quite a bit, despite shares themselves not being terribly volatile in the longer run. Those movements often provide nice option premiums and makes The Gap an attractive buy, although it can also be a frustrating position, as a result. However, it is one that I frequently like as part of my portfolio and currently do own shares. This most recent report on Friday didn't send shares moving as much as in the recent past, however, it did create an opportunity to consider the addition of more shares.
With earnings season beginning to high gear this week, there is no shortage of potential candidates. However, unless most weeks when considering earnings related trades I only think in terms of put sales and would prefer not to own shares.
That is certainly the case with SanDisk (NASDAQ:SNDK).
The option market believes that there may be a 6.6% movement in either direction next week upon earnings being released. However, a 1.1% ROI can potentially be achieved at a strike level that is outside of the range implied by the option market, making it an appealing trade, if willing to also manage the position in the event that assignment may be likely by attempting to roll over the put sale to a new time period.
On the other hand, both Blackstone (NYSE:BX) and Cypress Semiconductor (NASDAQ:CY) are shares that I would want to own at a lower price and would consider accepting assignment rather than rolling over and trying to stay one step ahead of assignment.
In the case of Cypress Semiconductor, whose products are quietly ubiquitous, since it has only monthly options available, there aren't good opportunities to try such evasive techniques, so being prepared for ownership is a requisite if selling puts. Shares have traded in an identifiable range, so if assigned and patient there's likely to be an escape path while collecting option premiums and perhaps dividends, as well.
Blackstone is off from its recent highs and has been a beneficiary of the rash of IPO offerings of late. While I wouldn't mind owning shares again at this level, the fact that it offers many expanded weekly options does allow for the possibility of managing the position through rollovers in the event that assignment may be imminent. However, with a generous dividend upcoming, there may also be reason to consider ownership if assignment may be likely.
Finally, a stock that I love to own is Fastenal (NASDAQ:FAST). To me it represents a snapshot of the US economy. Depending on your perspective when the economy does well, Fastenal does well or when Fastenal is doing well the economy is doing well. While that's fairly simple and easy to understand, even if not entirely validated, what is always less easy to understand is how a stock responds to its earnings reports. In this case shares of Fastenal tumbled as top line numbers were very good, but margins were decreasing.
While that may not be great news for Fastenal and it certainly wasn't for its shareholders today, the growth in sales revenues may be a positive sign for the economy. For me, the negative response provides opportunity to once again own shares and to do so as either a potential short term purchase or with a longer term horizon.
While Fastenal trades only monthly options with this being the final week of the July 2014 cycle, it could potentially be purchased with the mindset of a weekly option trader. However, in the event that shares aren't assigned, they do go ex-dividend the following week, so there may be reason to consider immediately considering an August 2014 option in hedging the share purchase.
Traditional Stocks: Bad Bath & Beyond, Fastenal, The Gap
Double Dip Dividend: none
Premiums Enhanced by Earnings: Blackstone, Cypress Semiconductor, SanDisk
Remember, these are just guidelines for the coming week. The above selections may become actionable, most often coupling a share purchase with call option sales or the sale of covered put contracts, in adjustment to and consideration of market movements. The overriding objective is to create a healthy income stream for the week with reduction of trading risk.
Disclosure: The author is long GPS. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Additional disclosure: I may buy/add shares or sell puts in BBBY, BX, CY, FAST, GPS and SNDK
Editor's Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.