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Say what you will about the "Hallmark" holiday that looms at the end of the week, but Valentine's Day is a proven moneymaker across a number of industries. It's the holiday for which everyone feigns apathy (but still enjoys shopping for).
This year's Chase Blueprint Valentine's Day survey revealed that women plan to spend $71 on their significant others, while men, on average, will shell out $98. Last year, all of those romantic gestures added up to roughly $19 billion.
The most common Valentine's Day gifts, of course, are flowers, candy, and jewelry. A venerable representative of the last category is Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF), which is fresh from a successful test of support at its 160-day moving average. The stock has also gained roughly 38% on a year-over-year basis to its present perch of $86.99, but Wall Street has been reluctant to throw its collective support behind the stock. Specifically, of the 17 analysts following the security, just six have awarded a "buy" or better rating, leaving 11 tepid "holds." Should the stock continue to bounce higher off of this technical support, some analysts could change their tune in a positive way.
Among the most notable publicly traded florists is FTD Companies Inc (NASDAQ:FTD), which debuted for trading in mid-October. In the ensuing four months, the stock has stepped back roughly 10% to its current perch of $31.36. Meanwhile, the stock has become a popular choice among short sellers. Nearly 2.5 million shares have been shorted, representing almost 15% of the stock's available float. At FTD's average daily volume, it would take close to 12 trading days to cover all of these bearish bets. If the stock starts to gain ground -- and currently, that's a big "if" -- short sellers could begin to head toward the exits.
Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) stands to benefit from shoppers whose sweethearts have a sweet tooth. HSY shares have been in rally mode for more than four years, nearly tripling in value since their early 2010 low in the $35 area. The stock has also outpaced the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) during the last month. Options traders have not overlooked this technical prowess; the stock's 50-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 2.90 is higher than 80% of the past year's worth of readings. In layman's terms, this means calls have been purchased to open at a pace of nearly 3-to-1 compared to puts, and this demand for calls over puts is elevated, from a historical perspective.
Finally, another popular destination for aspiring cupids is Victoria's Secret, the largest subsidiary of L Brands Inc (NYSE:LB). LB has dropped nearly 12% in 2014 so far, and last Friday was slapped with a price-target reduction (to $55 from $58) at Mizuho Securities. What's more, since hitting a record peak of $67.16 in early December, LB shares have fallen nearly 19% to rest at $54.50.
Options players have started to migrate to the bearish side of the fence, as evidenced by LB's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.13, which is higher than 60% of all readings, looking back one year. If positive sales news or other developments (such as the company's earnings later this month) inspire additional buying demand, some of these option bears could begin to capitulate.