Stocks quoted in this article:
Stocks are modestly lower this afternoon, as the major market indexes take a respite from their record-setting ascent. Meanwhile, among the equities in focus are microblogging site Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), casino concern Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS), and Silicon Valley titan Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), which have all attracted the attention of analysts.
- TWTR is 2.5% higher at $35.34, after Wells Fargo upgraded the shares to "market perform" from "underperform." However, the stock remains 44% lower year-to-date, and has underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 47 percentage points during the past three months. Meanwhile, intraday call volume is running at nearly twice the normal pace, with about 97,000 contracts exchanged -- more than three times the number of TWTR puts traded. Short-term bulls are apparently circling the weekly 6/13 36-strike call, buying to open the contracts on hopes that Twitter Inc shares will be sitting north of $36 by Friday's close, when the options expire. However, the stock is facing a familiar roadblock in the form of its descending 10-week moving average, which hasn't been toppled on a weekly closing basis since late January.
- LVS is 1.4% lower at $71.83, after UBS downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "buy," and cut its price target to $79 from $88, citing "slowing VIP end demand" in China. The negative analyst attention comes in the wake of planned UnionPay restrictions in Macau, which experts expect will weigh on the casino hub's revenue growth. LVS on Monday sank 2.2% on word of a slow start to June in Macau, and with today's drop is testing a foothold atop its 50-week moving average. However, if more analysts abandon the bullish bandwagon, Las Vegas Sands Corp. could extend its slide. Currently, 13 out of 16 analysts offer up "strong buy" opinions, with not a "sell" or worse rating in sight. Plus, the consensus 12-month price target of $90.24 represents expected upside of nearly 26% from the stock's current perch, and stands in six-year-high territory.
- Finally, AAPL is 0.2% higher at $93.85, after tagging a split-adjusted new high of $95.05 earlier in the session. In the wake of the stock's 7-for-1 stock split, Barclays revised its price target to $95, and reiterated its "equal weight" rating. From a sentiment standpoint, AAPL has plenty of fans on Wall Street, with 30 out of 39 analysts doling out "buy" or better endorsements, and the rest offering up "holds." Plus, the equity's 10-day call/put volume ratio on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) rests at 2.27 -- just 10 percentage points from an annual high. In other words, option buyers have picked up Apple Inc. calls over puts at much faster-than-usual clip during the past couple of weeks.