Stocks quoted in this article:
U.S. stocks are in the green this afternoon, as Wall Street anxiously awaits tomorrow's report from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). Among the equities in focus are 3D-content development and design company 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD), medical equipment manufacturer Intuitive Surgical, Inc. (NASDAQ:ISRG), and data storage provider NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP).
DDD enjoyed price-target hikes from BB&T Capital and Canaccord Genuity today. The respective $56 and $55 targets represent expected upside of 18.1% and 16% to the stock's current price of $47.41, and come as no surprise, considering DDD has tacked on a brow-raising 133.3% year-over-year, and has outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 45.2 percentage points during the past three months. Moreover, according to DDD's International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) 20-day call/put volume ratio of 2.41, speculators have bought to open almost 2.5 calls for every put within the last 20 sessions. Still, short interest accounts for a whopping 27.15% of the stock's available float, meaning stock traders are overwhelmingly pessimistic toward DDD. Therefore, it is possible that call activity is heavy due to short sellers hedging their bearish bets.
Wedbush announced its price target of $580 for ISRG today, which stands as a discount to analysts' consensus target of $602.36. Moreover, the firm gave ISRG an "outperform" rating, coinciding with the 12 out of 15 analysts who endorse the stock as a "buy" or better. It seems as though analysts' expectations are a tad bit high, considering ISRG has advanced a modest 3.5% year-to-date, and currently rests at $508.01. On the other hand, sentiment in ISRG's options pits run on the bearish side. In fact, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.51 ranks higher than 99% of other such readings taken during the past year, meaning put open interest for options with a shelf-life of three months or less is at a near-annual high, outnumbering call open interest by roughly 1.5-to-1. Should ISRG continue to move sideways, potential downgrades/price-target cuts could be in store, pushing the stock south.
NTAP has been on the rise as of late, climbing almost 28% during the past year, and 15.4% within the last three months alone. Moreover, the stock reached a new 52-week high of $39.48 today, and currently stands at $39.36, roughly 2% ahead of yesterday's close. Expecting the northward trend to continue, Pacific Crest raised its price target for NTAP to $48 from $41. What's more, there could be plenty more in store for NetApp. Just 10 out of 26 analysts offer up "buy" or better endorsements, and the average 12-month price target of $41.16 is just a stone's throw from the stock's current perch. Plus, an unwinding of bearish bets in the options pits could also translate into a contrarian boon. The equity's SOIR of 0.78 ranks in the 75th percentile of its annual range, suggesting short-term speculators are more put-skewed than usual.