Stocks quoted in this article:
Some of the equities reaching new technical milestones this Friday afternoon are Verizon Communications (VZ), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT), Seattle Genetics, Inc. (SGEN), Dollar General Corp. (DG), Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI) and Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (ANR).
Stocks have slowly moved higher throughout the trading session, and two major averages – the S&P 500 Index (SPX) and the small-cap Russell 2000 Index (RUT) – have marched through resistance. Heading into the weekend, the NYSE has seen 52 new highs and 29 new lows on the day so far, while the NASDAQ is reporting 25 new highs versus 21 new lows.
Notable Stocks at Annual Highs
- Although Verizon Communications (VZ - 42.21) has gained just over 5% in 2012 so far, it managed to touch a new 52-week high of $42.27 today. The shares are now a chip-shot away from their October 2007 peak of $43.21. The Street is mixed on the telecomm name, awarding 13 "buys," 16 "holds," and one "sell." Other sentiment indicators are middle-of-the-road as well as analysts and investors wait to see if VZ will be able to conquer this level of historical resistance.
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT - 67.93) continued its quest for new annual highs today, notching a fresh peak of $68.04 today. This added to its year-to-date gain of roughly 13.5% and the stock is now staring down the $70 level, last visited in December 1999. Short-term options players are rather skeptical on the retailing giant, as suggested by Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.21, which ranks in the highest five percent of the past year's readings. In the front three months' series, therefore, 121 puts are open for every 100 calls.
- Seattle Genetics, Inc. (SGEN - 23.61) is up 4% today, putting the stock at a new high of $23.79. The shares have now moved back above their fall 2011 high and filled the bearish gap created on November 4. SGEN shares are up almost 41% year-to-date and have outperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 27% over the past three months. Despite this strong price action, 27% of the stock's float has been sold short. Any short-covering activity by these bears could provide another layer of buying power for the biotech stock.
- Muscling through short-term resistance, Dollar General Corp. (DG - 50.35) has reached a new high of $50.75 and is up 22% for the year to date. Optimism is rather elevated on this discount retailer, despite some overall apathy for much of the consumer group. Of the 17 analysts following DG shares, for example, 12 have already named DG a "buy." The stock has been avoided by short sellers, meanwhile, as all of the shorted DG shares could be covered in less than two days of trading at the equity's average daily volume.
Notable Stock at Annual Lows
- Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI - 39.36) has moved to the lowest reaches of its two-month long trading range today, hitting a low of $38.95 in the process. Down almost 20% year-to-date, BHI shares were downgraded twice in yesterday's session after reporting an increasing rig count for May. The sentiment backdrop is rather mixed on the shares. Fourteen of 23 analysts rate BHI a "buy" or better, but short-term options activity has been quite bearish. In the last 10 trading days, the put/call volume ratio of options being bought to open on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) has reached 2.73, just two percentage points shy of an annual peak.
- Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (ANR - 9.23) said that it will reduce coal production in its Kentucky mines, eliminating 150 jobs. The shares are down modestly today but the move was enough to peg a new low of $9.03 this morning and contribute to the stock's 2012 loss, which now registers at roughly 55%. Despite the stock's struggles, 15 of 21 analysts following the name rate it a "strong buy," and the stock's SOIR of 0.63 is near an annual low, signifying complacency among the options crowd.