Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog

Analyst Downgrades: Amazon.com, Baidu, and VIVUS

Analysts downwardly revised their ratings on AMZN, BIDU, and VVUS

by 2/20/2013 9:08 AM
Stocks quoted in this article:

Analysts are weighing in today on Internet marketplace Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN - 269.75), Chinese search engine Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU - 92.18), and biopharmaceutical company VIVUS, Inc. (NASDAQ:VVUS - 13.46). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes.

  • Despite a year-over-year advance of about 48%, AMZN was slapped with a price-target cut to $300 from $325 at Nomura this morning. This downbeat outlook toward the stock is evident among the short-term crowd, as well. Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for AMZN checks in at 1.38, with puts outnumbering calls among options slated to expire in the next three months. This ratio ranks higher than 78% of similar readings taken within the past year, reflecting a stronger-than-usual preference for near-term puts over calls lately.

  • BIDU -- which has surrendered around 8% year-to-date -- was downgraded to "underperform" from "buy" at CLSA ahead of the opening bell. The equity has also trailed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 17 percentage points during the past four weeks. Nevertheless, nine of the 16 analysts covering the stock still maintain a "strong buy" recommendation for BIDU. This leaves the door wide open for additional bearish brokerage notes down the road, which could exacerbate the security's technical troubles.

  • Although VVUS has climbed nearly 28% over the last 12 months, analysts at JMP Securities reduced the stock's price target to $30 from $33 today. Meanwhile, data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 9.98 for VVUS, indicating traders have bought to open about 10 calls for every put during the past 10 weeks. This ratio is just 4 percentage points shy of a yearly peak, signaling speculators have been snapping up calls over puts at a near annual-high pace.

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