Monday, August 25, 2008

Chesapeake Energy, Lots of Call Volume.. Tropical Depression? Energy Price Reversal?


I'm looking at Chesapeake Energy again for a quick trade to the $50 area. From their website, they are the 3rd largest producer of natural gas in the US, and 2nd among independents. They own interests in approximately 39,000 producing natural gas and oil wells and are producing 2.3 billion cubic feet equivalent per day and 92% is natty gas.


Charts From Bigcharts.com





It looks like CHK was in the low $40s earlier this month, lows not seen since February of this year. It rallied all the way to $75 in July and closed at $48 today. It touched $50 a few days ago and could pierce through that important resistance level if a positive catalyst presents itself. It looks like it has corrected along with price of oil and natural gas. The second chart above shows the comparison between CHK and the Natural Gas ETF (UNG). The Natural Gas ETF is currently at the December 2007 support levels. It appears there could be a near term technical reversal, the sell off in energy is looking tired at the moment..

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lehman Brothers In Play, Dick Bove Values LEH at $20, South Korean Bank Buy Out? (Option Analysis)

Lehman is seeing some strength and interesting options activity after last week when the South Korean Development Bank said buying Lehman was a possibility but the price offered was too high. Dick Bove recently upgraded Lehman Brothers to Buy, saying Neuberger Berman could go for $7-$10 Billion in capital which would price Lehman at nothing on the market, most likely due to the valuation of mortgage debt on their books. He thinks it could be ripe for a hostile takeover and had a $20 take out price. Bove also thinks Lehman is trying to get a 20% premium to book value or a price in the $40s which he feels "doesn't have a prayer" (Bloomberg video). He says Lehman does not want to sell at these distressed levels.


Source: Stockcharts.com


Also noted, Citigroup analyst reduced his price target from $50 to $35 due to his estimate of a $2.9 Billion asset related write down in the 3rd quarter.


LEH Put/Call Volume vs. Price




Schaeffers Volatility Index (8/22)


It looks like volatility is moving higher along with lows in the put/call volume chart not seen since October 2007. The put/call volume ratio is sitting at about 1.20 and it looks like it was at parity a couple days ago. There seems to be a tug of war in sentiment and the rope doesn't seem to be moving in either direction. One side will give when the news catalyst comes out of either a buy out, sale of assets or none of the above. From a brief look at the call/put open interest chart on schaeffersresearch.com, it appears that there is a large amount of Put open interest at the SEP $5, $10, and $13 strike, with about 32,000 puts open at the $10 strike far outpacing calls. The OCT $30 call contract has the most open interest with over 24,000 contracts.

Now about the short interest, as of 8/1 about 82 million shares are reported short, and from the look of the chart it's at all time highs, so either we're in for a huge move to the downside or a massive rally is about to occur if the shorts get squeezed.

Technical Chart Analysis (chart at top of page): It looks like LEH has been gathering some strength from the RSI, also volume has increased to the 100 Million share level. It broke a key $15 level, however it closed on strong volume ending at $14.41. If we do see a positive catalyst and it breaks above the $15 mark again we could see $17.50 or $20.00 where the top of downward trend channel exists along with the 50 day moving average, if $15 fails, down we go.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Yahoo: Future TV Convergence, Technicals, Options

I'm looking at Yahoo again, it popped higher along with the overall market on Friday. Here's a look at the chart on Tuesday's set up and Friday's chart.

Tuesday (8/19/08) - via Stockcharts.com


Friday (8/22/08)


We're finally starting to hear news about Internet/TV convergence, with news from Intel and Yahoo this week (Intel and Yahoo! to Bring the Internet to Television). It's about time, I think it's a huge opportunity for Yahoo given it's huge internet property base and programming/branding opportunities. With the ability to use a set top box or direct TV integration to converge the two mediums, it will be a milestone when people catch on.

With so much video content on the internet, it was inevitable that this would occur. I think internet programming will slowly take over the advertising base of regular television network programs. Yahoo needs to lever its audience base, programming abilities, and cash to consolidate this industry. As you can see there is a huge fragemented market and I see it with financial internet sites, and with other genres, and I believe they are competing directly with CNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg for advertising revenue even though they have their own internet sites. You can see internet networks and television networks overlapping as well, partnering up, but with internet available on HDTV now it could sever the friendship. With so many different internet programs, and with speeds allowing for video streaming and HDTV integration, the big network owners (Disney, News Corp, GE, Time Warner, Viacom) definatley could use an internet platform like Yahoo to converge their programming outlets and advertising base. There's also a war in search going on right now and Google is dominating the space. In July, according to Comscore, Google's search market share registered 61.9% of all hits, while Yahoo had 20.5%, and Microsoft 8.9%. In order to compete with Google in search, a Microsoft buy out of Yahoo seems right. Yahoo is also leveraging it's services to get into the mobile space (Yahoo OneSearch finds a home on your Nokia, Yahoo! launches mobile voice search in RP) which is also a big market to tap. It's also interesting that more and more network content is able to be streamed on the internet, for example fancast.com lets you watch full episodes of current and old television programs from Doogie Howser MD to the Colbert Report. Also movies via netflix.com are also able to be seen on your HDTV with an enabled device. Convergence is here!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Falling Oil, Call Option Volume GM (8/11) ($GM, $USO)

GM 1 Year Chart (BigCharts.com)


I saw a lot of bullish call buying in the GM options On Monday morning (8/11/08).  With oil hitting fresh new lows and before Rick Wagoner, chairman and CEO of GM, came out and said "the worst may be over for the beleaguered carmaker, in terms of US job cuts, retiree healthcare costs and pension problems", the August $10.00 calls were seeing thousands of contracts being bid up and eventually volume picked up in the $11.00 strike in the thousands. The stock was at $10.20 when this was going on and it hit a high of $11.75 today before pulling back.

The chart looks very interesting. It seems that a double bottom COULD be forming with the increasing relative strength index knocking up against 50 along with a MACD right along the 0 line (which could break out confirming an uptrend). GM is also in a long term downward trend and could knock up against its upper channel and the 50 day moving average (12.29). This week option sentiment activity moved directly with oil fluctuations and the GM announcement, which was mainly bullish this week.  Also the 30 Day Volatility Index (chart below, courtesy of ise.com) hit a previous mid July low of 89 as of today's close. GM hit a week high of $11.88 today before pulling back to a $11.18 close. News about a potential asset sale are also in play and could be a potential trading opportunity. Also, oil's direction is key to the movement of GM. It could break out to the upside from here which would bring in massive bearish sentiment to GM and the autos, or oil could resume it's downtrend and GM implied volatility could break down further as investors stay content with the long GM trade. We shall see what happens.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

WCI, The Experience Was Everything! (R.I.P)

WCI Communities, the award winning builder of retirement and golf communities consisting of homes and condos in high rise towers mainly in Florida and the North East, wasn't really relaxing in the sun during the past year and a half. Finally though WCI is resting in peace after repeated actions of trying to restructure its 4% convertible senior subordinated notes due 2023 that had a $125 million put date on August 4, 2008, which investors decided to redeem in full for cash.


Source: Bigcharts.com


WCI did not have the liquidity available to pay off the notes, and if they did, it would have violated existing debt covenants using cash on hand to pay off those notes. So they tried to refinance them with secured notes paying 17.5%, giving it more security as well as shortening the expiration to 2012. They also sweetened the deal by providing a warrant to purchase 33 shares for each 1,000 principal amount. This transaction required that 95% of the 125 million be swapped. It's interesting that the convertible debt was being bid up about a month before the put date, they were pretty big sizes and could've been used to block the transaction or to try to utilize the put at par realizing a nice cash profit. Bond activity information used from Finra.org.






And the funniest part of the story is there was a fake fax message sent to all of the media outlets in Florida that WCI received a $5.25/share bid to buy the company!
"WCI Communities said it was victimized by a phony press release Saturday that said the financially strapped luxury developer had received a buyout bid of $5.25 per share. As the buyout rumor circulated Monday morning, the company's stock shot up 37 cents per share, or 27 percent. WCI rushed out a press release denying the "false media reports," and the stock dropped back to its starting price of $1.37 per share. It closed at $1.39. WCI is best known in the Tampa Bay area for developing Sun City Center and the Westshore Yacht Club. As of late Monday, the company hadn't discovered the source of the fake news report, but suggested the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission would look into whether someone was trying to pump up the stock to dump shares at a profit." Link

This all happening while S.A.C Capital is unloading millions of shares before the Aug 4Th put date, thousands of put contracts were bought sporadically during July at the lowest (2.50, 5.00) strikes, and 15 million shares were short. It's a conspiracy! Someone long needed some liquidity fast to get out, and the shorts were getting ready for the big BK!

The swap transaction ultimately failed and WCI filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Here are quotes from the Chairman Carl Icahn, owner of 15% of the company..
“The company, with all diligence, has attempted to avoid a bankruptcy filing. However, the filing became necessary because of the recent failed effort to obtain financing and the recognition that the company’s entire $1.8 billion of debt may soon be in default. This was confirmed when certain holders of the company’s $125 million convertible notes informed the company that they rejected its exchange offer and instead insisted on being paid in cash in full on August 5, 2008.”

WCI went into bankruptcy cash flow positive with a $5.64 book value (Assets $2.13 Billion - 1.94 Liabilities), however banks were appraising the secured assets and some came in less than book value. From the 2Q press release:
"These lower than expected appraisal values could potentially trigger a mandatory repayment obligation in future periods. Thus far, we have received appraisals on assets totaling approximately $700 million of which aggregate appraisal values exceed 95% of book value, however, the ratio of appraised value to book value received to date may or may not represent the ratio of appraised value of remaining inventory." There was also commentary in the Naples News


2007: Icahn Vs. WCI
 

It should be known that in 2007 WCI's previous board of directors turned down a $22 tender offer by Carl Icahn thinking they could get a better deal. This was a horrible idea because the housing industry was crumbling, especially in Florida, and now a year later the company is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy trading at .30 on the pink sheets.

In late 2006 and the beginning of 2007, Carl Icahn accumulated about 15% of the company and S.A.C Capital, High Bridge and Sandell Asset Management had just under 10% of the company trying to capitalize on a sale of the company. Carl Icahn and his affiliated companies then made a tender offer for WCI at $22/share on 3/23/07 if certain conditions were met (poison pill and Delaware law condition). Icahn's tender offer expired 2 months later because the company declined and did not agree with the conditions. In July WCI still couldn't come up with buyers for the company and it was trading around $10/share and during this time I remember thousands of puts were traded at the 10.00 and 7.50 strike. It eventually hit $5 in the beginning of August.