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Techs Flash Inner Strength; Lam Research, Broadcom Basing

The Nasdaq traded 2.6% higher for the week in afternoon trade Wednesday, easily outpacing the S&P 500 and the Dow and suggesting that beleaguered tech stocks might be regaining their groove. Two of the strongest tech groups over the past five days have been chip equipment makers and fabless chip designers. The chip equipment group is up almost 7% in the past week. The 41-stock fabless group gained more than 5%. That wasn’t enough to lift either group into IBD’s top industry rankings. Chip equipment makers ranked No. 57. Fabless ranked No. 86. Those rankings make them stronger than most of the 197 industries tracked by IBD . But they still have work to do before reaching the top groups, which are known to produce leading stocks in rising markets. Use IBD’s Stock Checkup function to check into this tech stock that broke out Wednesday. But both groups do show some potential fodder for investors seeking stocks to place on watch lists. Among chip equipment makers, Lam Research ( LRCX ) and KLA-Tencor ( KLAC ) are basing amid expected earnings turnarounds. The two agreed to a $10.6 billion merger, sending both stocks abruptly higher in late October. Lam has since gyrated widely, stretching to retest both old lows and highs. It rebounded from 40-week support last week, and retook its 10-week line on Tuesday. It is below an 83.93 buy point. KLA has been behaving better.  Two weeks off the bottom of its second shallow base since January, the stock retook its 50-day line Tuesday. Shares have been in a slow uptrend since October and are less than 3% below a 73.69 buy point. The Department of Justice last week requested additional information on the proposed combination of the two companies. The DOJ has been no friend to big mergers of late. But both Lam and KLA are California-based companies, so they don’t trigger the same tax-scheme alarms as cross-border inversion deals.  The companies expect to close the deal in the third quarter. Combined, the two companies’ revenue would almost measure up to that of Applied Materials ( AMAT ), which reported $9.6 billion last year. Applied Materials broke out to 52-week highs last week, clearing a 21.77 buy point in heavy trade on Friday. The Santa Clara, Calif.-based outfit sharply raised its EPS and revenue guidance to above consensus expectations after Thursday’s close. Shares ended Wednesday almost 9% past the buy point. The fabless chip group is made up of chip designers that outsource the bulk of their manufacturing. These tend to have lower costs and higher profit margins than full-blown chip manufacturers, and so they are considered a separate group. Within this group, Nvidia ( NVDA ) is soaring. A specialist in high-end video-processing chips, it cleared a cup-with-handle base in March, then spiked after a test of support at its 10-week line early in May. Advanced Micro Devices ( AMD ) has also gone vertical since clearing a cup-with-handle base in massive trade in May. The stock is low-priced, but the company is a leader in microprocessing chips. Also in the group, Silicon Motion ( SIMO ) appears unstoppable, tinkering with new highs after climbing in 17 of 19 recent weeks. MaxLinear ( MXL ) has advanced through as series of bases over the past eight months. It’s near the top of a buy range from a 19.20 buy point in a six-week cup base. It is also edging for the first time into new highs, above its prior zenith set in March 2010 – in the session after its IPO. Broadcom ( AVGO ) is basing; it’s 3% below a 158.02 buy point in a flat base.   Cirrus Logic ( CRUS ) is building what may become a base, but has been struggling below a May 2015 high. One wild card in the group is Taiwanese Himax Technologies ( HIMX ). It is rising off a test of its 40-week line in the seventh week of a possible base. Analyst consensus calls for a 100% EPS gain in the current quarter – its first gain in seven quarters. Revenue is projected to jump 19% – its best increase since 2011. For the year, forecasts call for a 128% EPS increase on a 33% gain in sales.  

Short-Selling 101

With the stock market falling for the next few weeks, or even months, it’s time to rehash how to profit from falling markets one more time. There is nothing worse than closing the barn door after the horses have bolted. No doubt, you will receive a wealth of short selling and hedging ideas from your other research sources and the media at the next market bottom. That is always how it seems to play out. So I am going to get you out ahead of the curve, putting you through a refresher course on how to best trade falling markets now, while stock markets are still only 3% short of an all time high, and unchanged on the year. Market’s could be down 10% by the time this is all over. That is my line in the sand! There is nothing worse than fumbling around in the dark looking for the matches after a storm has knocked the power out. I’m not saying that you should sell short the market right here. But there will come a time when you will need to do so. So here are the best ways to profit from declining stock prices, broken down by security type: Bear ETFs Of course the granddaddy of them all is the ProShares Short S&P 500 Fund (NYSEARCA: SH ), a non-leveraged bear ETF that is supposed to match the fall in the S&P 500 point for point on the downside (see prospectus ). Hence, a 10% decline in the (NYSEARCA: SPY ) is supposed to generate a 10% gain the in the SH. In actual practice, it doesn’t work out like that. The ETF has to pay management operating fees and expenses, which can be substantial. After all, nobody works for free. There is also the “cost of carry,” whereby owners have to pay the price for borrowing and selling short shares. They are also liable for paying the quarterly dividends for the shares they have borrowed, around 2% a year. And then you have to pay the commissions and spread for buying the ETF. Still, individuals can protect themselves from downside exposure in their core portfolios through buying against it. Short-selling is not cheap, but it’s better than watching your gains of the last seven years go up in smoke. Virtually all equity indexes now have bear ETFs. Some of the favorites include the PSQ , a short play on the NASDAQ (see prospectus ), and the DOG , which profits from a plunging Dow average (see prospectus ). My favorite is the RWM , a short play on the Russell 2000, which falls 1.5X faster than the big cap indexes in bear markets (see prospectus ). Leveraged Bear ETFs My favorite is the ProShares Ultra Short S&P 500 (NYSEARCA: SDS ), a 2X leveraged ETF ( prospectus ). A 10% decline in the generates a 20% profit, maybe. Keep in mind that by shorting double the market, you are liable for double the cost of shorting, which can total 5% a year or more. This shows up over time in the tracking error against the underlying index. Therefore, you should date, not marry, this ETF or you might be disappointed. 3X Leveraged Bear ETFs The 3X bear ETFs, like the UltraPro Short S&P 500 (NYSEARCA: SPXU ), are to be avoided like the plague ( prospectus ). First, you have to be pretty good to cover the 8% cost of carry embedded in this fund. They also reset the amount of index they are short at the end of each day, creating an enormous tracking error. Eventually, they all go to zero, and have to be periodically redenominated to keep from doing so. Dealing spreads can be very wide, further added to costs. Yes, I know the charts can be tempting. Leave these for the professional hedge fund intra day traders they are meant for. Buying Put Options For a small amount of capital, you can buy a ton of downside protection. For example, the April $182 puts I bought for $4,872 allowed me to sell short $145,600 worth of large cap stocks at $182 (8 X 100 X $6.09). Go for distant maturities out several months to minimize time decay and damp down daily price volatility. Your market timing better be good with these, because when the market goes against you, put options can go poof, and disappear pretty quickly. That’s why you read this newsletter. Selling Call Options One of the lowest risk ways to coin it in a market heading south is to engage in “buy writes”. This involves selling short call options against stock you already own, but may not want to sell for tax or other reasons. If the market goes sideways, or falls, and the options expire worthless, then the average cost of your shares is effectively lowered. If the shares rise substantially they get called away, but at a higher price, so you make more money. Then you just buy them back on the next dip. It is a win-win-win. I’ll give you a concrete example. Let’s say you own 100 shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ), which closed on Friday at $95.13, worth $9,513. If you sell short 1 July, 2016 $100 call at $1.30 against them, you take in $130 in premium income ($1.30 X 100 because one call option contract is exercisable into 100 shares). If Apple close2 below $100 on the July 15, 2016 expiration date, the options expire worthless and you keep your stock and the premium. You are then free to repeat the strategy for the following month. If closes anywhere above $100 and your shares get called away, you still make money on the trade. Selling Futures This is what the pros do, as futures contracts trade on countless exchanges around the world for every conceivable stock index or commodity. It is easy to hedge out all of the risk for an entire portfolio of shares by simply selling short futures contracts for a stock index. For example, let’s say you have a portfolio of predominantly large cap stocks worth $100,000. If you sell short 1 June, 2016 contract for the S&P 500 against it, you will eliminate most of the potential losses for your portfolio in a falling market. The margin requirement for one contract is only $5,000. However if you are short the futures and the market rises, then you have a big problem, and the losses can prove ruinous. But most individuals are not set up to trade futures. The educational, financial, and disclosure requirements are beyond mom and pop investing for their retirement fund. Most 401ks and IRAs don’t permit the inclusion of futures contracts. Only 25% of the readers of this letter trade the futures market. Regulators do whatever they can to keep the uninitiated and untrained away from this instrument. That said, get the futures markets right, and it is the quickest way to make a fortune, if your market direction is correct. Buying Volatility Volatility (VIX) is a mathematical construct derived from how much the S&P 500 moves over the next 30 days. You can gain exposure to it through buying the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA: VXX ), or buying call and put options on the VIX itself. If markets fall, volatility rises, and if markets rise, then volatility falls. You can therefore protect a stock portfolio from losses through buying the VIX. My latest on the VIX is available here . Selling Short IPOs Another way to make money in a down market is to sell short recent initial public offerings. These tend to go down much faster than the main market. That’s because many are held by hot hands, known as “flippers,” and don’t have a broad institutional shareholder base. Many of the recent ones don’t make money and are based on an, as yet, unproven business model. These are the ones that take the biggest hits. Individual IPO stocks can be tough to follow to sell short. But one ETF has done the heavy lifting for you. This is the Renaissance IPO ETF (see prospectus ). Buying Momentum This is another mathematical creation based on the number of rising days over falling days. Rising markets bring increasing momentum, while falling markets produce falling momentum. So selling short momentum produces additional protection during the early stages of a bear market. BlackRock has issued a tailor made ETF to capture just this kind of move through its iShares MSCI Momentum Factor ETF (NYSEARCA: MTUM ) ( prospectus ). Buying Beta Beta, or the magnitude of share price movements, also declines in down markets. So selling short beta provides yet another form of indirect insurance. The PowerShares S&P 500 High Beta Portfolio ETF (NYSEARCA: SPHB ) is another niche product that captures this relationship. The Index is compiled, maintained and calculated by Standard & Poor’s and consists of the 100 stocks from the SPX with the highest sensitivity to market movements, or beta, over the past 12 months. The Fund and the Index are rebalanced and reconstituted quarterly in February, May, August and November. (See prospectus .) Buying Bearish Hedge Funds Another subsector that does well in plunging markets are publicly listed bearish hedge funds. There are a couple of these that are publicly listed and have already started to move. One is the Advisor Shares Active Bear ETF (NYSEARCA: HDGE ) ( prospectus ). Keep in mind that this is an actively managed fund, not an index or mathematical relationship, so the volatility could be large. Oops, Forgot to Hedge Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Why Apple, Alibaba Lead 6 Hot Tech Stocks You Should Be Watching

Loading the player… From new products and partnerships to key chart moves, here’s a look at six top tech stocks you should keep an eye on today: Apple ( AAPL ), Alibaba ( BABA ), Netflix ( NFLX ), Facebook ( FB ), Microsoft ( MSFT ) and Google owner Alphabet ( GOOGL ). Apple Apple is working on its answer to the Amazon Echo and Google Home personal-assistant speakers, according to a report from The Information on Tuesday. The report says Apple will unveil the device at its developers conference in mid-June. Shares are on track for a four-day win streak, up 1.6% intraday on the stock market today , with the stock’s volume tracking higher than average on Wednesday. Apple is nearing the 100 price level, which the stock gapped below after the company’s quarterly earnings report missed expectations. Alibaba Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has revealed that the SEC is investigating its accounting practices in relation to its consolidation policies, transaction practices and operating data from Singles Day, its biggest shopping day of the year. Shares are plunging 6.1% in heavy volume, breaching the 50-day line. Shares are now trading 17% below their 52-week high. Netflix Netflix is rising amid fresh reports that the European Union is seeking to require a quota for local content on streaming platforms. And this week, Netflix announced it will be the exclusive host of new Disney films, beginning in September. Shares climbed above the 50-day line in Tuesday’s session and are continuing 2.2% higher today in fast trade. The stock is now 24% below its all-time high. Facebook And Facebook, which re-entered buy range in Tuesday’s session, is retaking its 10-day line in above-average volume today, rising 0.2%. The stock is now trading just 2% below its all-time high. Microsoft Microsoft is nearing its 50-day line after retaking its 200-day line in Tuesday’s session. Shares are now 7% below their late-December high and up 1.5% Wednesday. Alphabet Alphabet is rallying 0.8%, also nearing its 50-day line after taking its 200-day line Tuesday. It’s trading 8% below a flat base buy point at 791.05.