Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
Stocks quoted in this article:

The broad-market indexes are in the red at midday, as tech stocks resume their pullback. Meanwhile, among the equities in focus are tech titan Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), agricultural concern Potash Corp./Saskatchewan (USA) (NYSE:POT), and virtual infrastructure provider EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC), which have all attracted the attention of analysts.

  • HPQ is bucking the trend lower, up 3% at $33.90 -- a new two-year high -- after a pair of upbeat analyst notes. Specifically, Deutsche Bank initiated coverage with a "buy" rating and a $40 price target, while Morgan Stanley upped its price target to $36 from $34. The optimistic attention is relatively rare for Hewlett-Packard Company, which has earned just six "buy" or better ratings, compared to 13 "hold" or worse suggestions. However, the options crowd has picked up bullish bets at a faster-than-usual clip during the past 10 weeks. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 2.12 stands higher than 97% of all other readings from the past year.

  • POT is down 0.9% at $33.92, despite a pre-market price-target boost to $31 from $30 at Barclays. Most analysts, however, are in the bears' camp, with just six doling out "buy" or better ratings, compared to 12 tepid "holds." On the other hand, option traders have been picking up POT calls at a rapid-fire rate. The security's 10-day call/put volume ratio on the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX sits at 7.88 -- just 3 percentage points from an annual high. In the same vein, the security sports a Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.51, which stands higher than only 3% of comparable readings from the past year. In simpler terms, short-term options speculators have rarely been more call-heavy. Potash Corp./Saskatchewan (USA) -- which is up 2.9% year-to-date -- is scheduled to report earnings before the open on Thursday, April 24.

  • Finally, after an initial foray into positive territory, EMC has retreated along with the broader equities market, despite a fresh "buy" rating and $32 price target from Deutsche Bank. The stock -- last seen 0.3% lower at $27.35 -- is no stranger to upbeat analyst attention. In fact, 21 out of 25 covering analysts offer up "buy" or better endorsements, with the remaining four issuing lukewarm "hold" recommendations. Meanwhile, the stock's SOIR of 0.55 sits higher than just 29% of all other readings from the past year, pointing to a bigger-than-usual call bias among options expiring within three months. The bullish vibe isn't too surprising, though, considering EMC Corporation has outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 7 percentage points during the past two months, and tagged a near-two-year high of $28.26 late last month. Off the charts, the company is slated to unveil its first-quarter earnings report before the open on Wednesday, April 23.

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