Stocks quoted in this article:
Stocks are south of breakeven again this afternoon, due to lackluster domestic data and escalating violence in Iraq. Meanwhile, among the equities in focus are tech concerns Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU), Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), and Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ:ORCL), which have all attracted analyst attention.
- MU is following the broader equities market into the red, despite a pair of price-target boosts ahead of the bell. Specifically, Nomura lifted its target by $10 to $40, while Wedbush hiked its target to $37 from $31. The positive notes echo that from Tuesday night, when Credit Suisse boosted its price target on MU by $20 to $50, lifting the shares to a 12-year high of $31.60 yesterday. Even with today's dip, the stock boasts a year-to-date gain of 41.6%, and has outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by nearly 33 percentage points during the past two months. However, short interest represents more than a week's worth of pent-up buying demand, at MU's average pace of trading, and seven out of 20 analysts maintain "hold" or worse opinions on the stock. Should the equity extend its quest for new highs, a short-squeeze situation or more bullish brokerage attention could add fuel to Micron Technology, Inc.'s fire.
- HPQ is flying in the face of broad-market headwinds, up 1.2% at $33.64. The stock earlier tagged a near-three-year high of $34.30, after Goldman Sachs upgraded the shares to "neutral" from "sell" and hiked its price target to $32. Plus, Mizuho upped its price target by $5 to $35. However, while Hewlett-Packard Company has been a standout on the charts -- the security has added more than 20% in 2014 -- most analysts remain in the bears' corner. The stock sports just nine "buy" or better endorsements, compared to 12 "hold" or worse suggestions. Plus, the consensus 12-month price target of $35.27 stands within a stone's throw of HPQ's new high. As the stock continues its climb, additional upgrades and/or price-target increases could lure more buyers to the table.
- Finally, ORCL has slipped 0.9% to $42.17, despite a price-target boost to $47 from $45 at Stifel. On the charts, the stock remains more than 10% higher year-to-date, and has bested the SPX during the past three months. Off the charts, Oracle Corporation is set to report fiscal fourth-quarter earnings after the close on Thursday, June 19, and option buyers are betting bearishly. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.36 stands higher than 80% of all other readings of the past year -- pointing to a healthier-than-usual appetite for long puts over calls of late. What's more, short-term bears are paying up for their puts. The security's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 31% ranks in the 62nd percentile of its annual range, suggesting ORCL's short-term options are slightly more expensive than usual, from a volatility standpoint.