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The major market indexes are modestly higher this afternoon, as investors digest blue-chip earnings and await Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's appearance on Capitol Hill. Among the equities in focus include social gaming concern Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA), professional networking issue LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD), and streaming video titan Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX), which have all attracted the attention of analysts.
- ZNGA has tacked on 3.8% to trade at $3.53, after Piper Jaffray upped its price target to $3.50 from $2.75. The shares are up roughly 50% in 2013, yet remain plagued by pessimism in the options pits. Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for the stock is 0.83, which sits just 6 percentage points from a 12-month peak. In other words, near-term options players have rarely been more put-skewed during the past year. Meanwhile, short interest advanced 25.5% during the most recent reporting period, underscoring our theory that the ZNGA bears are alive and well.
- Moving on, analysts at BGC partners launched coverage of LNKD with a "buy" rating and $225 price target, representing expected upside of 22% to LinkedIn's current price of $184.46. Of course, there could be more positive analyst attention on the horizon for LNKD, which has outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 4 percentage points during the past three months. Currently, 15 out of 26 brokerage firms maintain tepid "hold" opinions of the equity.
- With summer comes lower TV ratings for the networks, which could translate into money in the proverbial banana stand for NFLX, opined analysts at BTIG. In fact, considering Netflix's influx of original content like "Arrested Development" (premiering Sunday), the streaming video service could top The Walt Disney Company's (NYSE:DIS) namesake channel and even News Corp.'s (NASDAQ:NWSA) Fox in June. Despite outpacing the SPX by 23 percentage points during the past two months, NFLX remains underappreciated among the brokerage crowd. Just six analysts offer up "strong buy" endorsements, compared to 16 "holds" and four "sell" or worse suggestions. Meanwhile, the security's SOIR of 1.20 stands higher than 83% of all other readings of the past year. At last check, NFLX is trading at $237.65. Should the stock continue its year-to-date advance -- currently north of 150% -- a round of upgrades or a mass exodus of option bears could add fuel to the fire.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is up 35 points, or 0.2%, to 15,370.76, as investors await Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's Congressional testimony tomorrow. Meanwhile, blue-chip component The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) revealed stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings ahead of the open, which propelled the home improvement retailer to a fresh record peak of $79.40. Although the Dow has pared this morning's gains, it still managed to tag another all-time intraday high of 15,401.17 within the first 30 minutes of trading.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges checks in at 0.73, with 3.6 million calls changing hands so far today, versus 2.7 million puts.
- Among the equities with heavy call activity is Saks Inc (NYSE:SKS), which has gained about 8.6% -- and touched a new multi-year high of $13.54 -- since the opening bell, after the firm topped analysts' quarterly revenue estimates this morning. Currently, calls account for 93.5% of the retailer's intraday option volume. At last check, SKS was trading at $13.34.
- The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.89, with the number of downward movers outweighing the advancers.
- Among the NYSE's major decliners is hhgregg, Inc. (NYSE:HGG), which has plummeted about 12.4% in intraday action, after reporting an 82% drop in fiscal fourth-quarter earnings post-close yesterday. Despite these downbeat results, however, analysts at UBS, Janney, Jefferies, and J.P. Morgan Securities lifted their price targets for the stock in pre-market trading. HGG is presently trading at $13.67.
- The CBOE Market Volatility Index (INDEXCBOE:VIX) is 0.04 point, or 0.3%, higher, to rest at 13.06.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) -- which is currently docked at 18.23 -- sits at 1.86, with puts almost doubling calls.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI).
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Analysts are weighing in today on cruise concern Carnival Corporation (NYSE:CCL), package delivery service FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX), and fine accessories designer Coach, Inc. (NYSE:COH). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes.
- Off about 4% so far this year to trade at $35.32, CCL was hammered with bearish attention this morning, after the firm last night cut its full-year guidance for the second time in less than three months. Wells Fargo and William Blair both lowered the stock to "market perform" from "outperform," while UBS and Nomura also issued downgrades and/or price-target reductions. However, despite Carnival Corporation's sluggish price action, there's relatively little skepticism toward the stock. Short interest now accounts for less than 2% of the equity's available float. From a contrarian perspective, the security is unlikely to benefit from any future short-covering activity. Ahead of the bell, CCL is down nearly 6%.
- FDX -- which has shed nearly 8% from its March high at $109.66 -- saw its price target lowered to $125 from $129 at Deutsche Bank in pre-market activity. Nevertheless, the sentiment scales have been bullishly tipped toward FedEx Corporation of late. In fact, the stock sports 15 "strong buys" and one "buy" endorsement, compared to five "holds" and not a single "sell" recommendation. Meanwhile, Thomson Reuters shows an average 12-month price target of $114.58 for the security, reflecting expected upside of about 13.2% to yesterday's closing price of $101.18. In other words, FDX could be vulnerable to further downgrades and/or price-target cuts, which could exacerbate the equity's technical troubles.
- COH was cut to "equal weight" from "overweight" at Morgan Stanley ahead of the open, which could chip away at the equity's year-to-date advance of more than 7%. The stock -- presently priced at $59.53 -- has also outpaced the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by about 15 percentage points during the past three months, which may be attracting short-term bulls. Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for Coach, Inc. checks in at 0.87, conveying calls outstrip puts among options with a shelf-life of three months or less. This ratio ranks lower than all other readings collected within the past year, meaning near-term options players are more bullishly aligned toward the stock now than at any other time during the last 12 months.
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Today's calendar is free from significant economic reports, leaving investors to wonder about what Ben Bernanke will say in tomorrow's remarks before Congress. After suffering modest losses on Monday, the Dow is edging higher ahead of this morning's opening bell. Turning to company news, here are some stocks to watch today:
- According to a Senate report summary, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been dodging U.S. taxes using a variety of tactics. The tech giant has allegedly employed a number of offshore entities in jurisdictions with no or low taxes, as well as tax loopholes, to decrease its taxable income and profits. (USA Today)
- The news was all good in the earnings confessional for The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD). The home improvement retailer posted a quarterly earnings beat of 83 cents per diluted share, topping consensus estimates, and raised its full-year guidance to $3.52. The shares are up over 3% in pre-market trading. (NBC News)
- Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud service provider of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), has been given U.S. government security clearance for the next three years. Now, upon receiving one-time approval, individual federal agencies can use AWS -- which offers remote storage and computing -- on multiple projects, rather than needing to secure separate authorizations for each project. (Yahoo! News)
- At today's annual meeting, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) will announce the voting results of a proposal to strip Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon of the former title. The firm lost $6.2 billion on a series of derivatives trades last year, prompting shareholders to call for more oversight on Dimon. The executive, however, may choose to leave the bank entirely, should the measure pass. (Reuters)
- Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) has redesigned Flickr, the photo-sharing website it bought in 2005, to include not only an "Activity Feed" allowing users to keep up with their friends' latest posts, but also 1 terabyte of free storage. With this, users could upload one photo every hour for the next 40 years and still have available space, according to Yahoo. (Los Angeles Times)
- This morning, Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) announced a nearly 10% decrease in revenue to $9.38 billion from $10.37 billion a year ago (analysts were targeting $10.66 billion), and net earnings of $97 million, or 29 cents a share, from $169 million, or 49 cents a share. Excluding items, the company earned 32 cents per share, topping estimates by 7 cents. Still, the electronics chain said a heap of investments, with the intention of bringing back customers, could lead to near-term profits. (CNBC)
- The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) is in the limelight this week after United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL) resumed its use of the 787 Dreamliner on Monday, flying from Houston to Chicago. The aerospace company also reenacted its delivery of the new aircraft, and announced its expectation of making all of this year's planned deliveries despite recent battery defects. (Forbes)
- Finally, Eminem's song publisher Eight Mile Style filed a complaint against Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and its advertising agency, saying they used music from Eminem's copyrighted song "Under the Influence" in a 30-second ad, titled "Airplane," which aired on April 4. Several days after the broadcast, Facebook posted a different version of the commercial featuring new music, which Eight Mile Style believes "was an admission that Facebook knew it had infringed" on the rapper's song. (USA Today)
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Analysts are weighing in today on Internet giant Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), entertainment software developer TiVo Inc. (NASDAQ:TIVO), and data storage provider Western Digital Corp. (NASDAQ:WDC). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes.
- Up roughly 71% on a year-over-year basis to hover at $26.58, YHOO scored a price-target hike to $27 from $23 at BMO today, on the heels of yesterday's M&A news. In addition, Oppenheimer lifted its target to $30 from $27. Yahoo! Inc. has bested the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by close to 14 percentage points during the past three months, which could explain the heavy call activity in the options pits lately. In fact, the stock's 20-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio checks in at 3.91, confirming traders have bought to open nearly four calls for every put during the past month.
- TIVO saw its price target upped to $17 from $16 at Jefferies this morning, after reporting a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss on Monday. The stock -- which sports a 52-week gain of more than 32% and is currently priced at $12.66 -- is seeing plenty of optimism from the near-term options crowd, as well. Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for TiVo Inc. sits at 0.27, with calls nearly quadrupling puts among options scheduled to expire within the next three months. This ratio ranks in the 19th annual percentile, indicating short-term options players have rarely been more call-heavy toward the equity during the last 12 months.
- WDC -- which has advanced more than 65% during the past year -- received a price-target boost to $68 from $58 at Lazard ahead of the opening bell. Despite this technical prowess, most of the covering analysts feel lukewarm at best toward Western Digital Corp. Only seven have deemed the stock worthy of a "strong buy" endorsement, compared to 10 "holds" and one "sell" suggestion. What's more, the security's average 12-month price target of $58.84 represents a discount to yesterday's closing price of $59.45. This leaves the door wide open for further upgrades and/or price-target hikes, which could help propel the shares higher.