Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog

Analyst Downgrades: Las Vegas Sands, athenahealth, and Hess

Analysts downwardly revised their ratings on LVS, ATHN, and HES

by 1/31/2013 9:35 AM
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Analysts are weighing in today on casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS - 51.56), medical billing firm athenahealth, Inc (NASDAQ:ATHN - 87.42), and energy concern Hess Corp. (NYSE:HES - 67.88). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes.

  • LVS was lowered to "hold" from "buy" at Craig-Hallum ahead of the open, after reporting softer-than-anticipated per-share earnings post-close yesterday. (However, analysts at Stifel Nicolaus, Sterne Agee, Cantor Fitzgerald, Nomura, Barclays, RBC, and J.P. Morgan Securities raised their respective price targets.) Meanwhile, Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for LVS checks in at 0.77, indicating calls outstrip puts among the front three-months' series options. This ratio ranks in the 30th percentile of its annual range, meaning near-term traders have been more call-heavy toward the stock less than one-third of the time during the last 12 months.

  • Despite a gain of more than 19% so far this year, ATHN was cut to "outperform" from "strong buy" at Raymond James this morning. The stock has also bested the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by nearly 32 percentage points during the last three months, yet bearish speculation continues to flourish on ATHN. Short interest on the security rose by 1.4% over the most recent reporting period, and now accounts for almost 21% of ATHN's available float. In fact, it would take nearly 13 days to unwind these bearish bets, at the equity's average pace of trading.

  • Finally, HES received downgrades at Societe Generale (to "hold" from "buy"), UBS (to "neutral" from "buy"), and Tudor Pickering (to "accumulate" from "buy") today, on the heels of yesterday's lackluster quarterly earnings report. (Barclays, however, raised its price target to $70 from $65.) The stock has advanced more than 28% in 2013, which could explain the accelerated call activity surrounding HES. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 20-day call/put volume ratio of 3.02 for HES, meaning calls bought to open have more than tripled puts during the past month.

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