Stocks quoted in this article:
Despite some positive economic data on the home front, the major indexes have remained firmly entrenched in bear country today. As a result, a significant number of equities have followed suit to explore new-low territory. At last look, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) shows 83 securities at new lows and 36 stocks at new highs, while the Nasdaq has 65 stocks at new lows, versus 27 at fresh peaks. Among the stocks touching 12-month highs or lows in today's trading are Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOR), Pharmacyclics, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCYC), Research in Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM), Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL), Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF), and Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF).
Notable Stocks at Annual Highs
- Technical outperformer Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR - 52.56) -- which boasts a year-over-year advance of more than 124% -- edged just high enough to claim a new peak of $53.32 today. There is plenty of love among the analysts covering the pharmaceutical concern, as all eight have issued "strong buy" endorsements. However, the options crowd is feeling less than enthused with QCOR, as its 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio checks in at 1.85 -- conveying that puts bought to open have nearly doubled calls over the past 10 sessions. This ratio registers in the 92nd annual percentile, suggesting that traders have been picking up puts over calls at a much faster-than-usual pace. Furthermore, short interest on QCOR spiked by 22% during the past month, and now makes up a hefty 32% of the security's float. At the stock's average pace of trading, it would take more than two weeks to buy back these shorted shares.
- Sector peer Pharmacyclics (PCYC - 50.44) reached its own new high of $50.74 today, as well, boosting its 52-week gain to a staggering 401%. The equity has also bested the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by an impressive 79% over the past three months. Considering this technical prowess, it stands to reason that traders on the ISE/CBOE/PHLX are enamored with the stock. PCYC's 20-day call/put volume ratio of 3.18 denotes that calls bought to open have more than tripled puts over the last four weeks. Moreover, Thompson Reuters pegs the biotech firm's average 12-month price-target at $49.71, which is just a stone's throw away from its current price -- leaving plenty of room for future price-target hikes. However, there are still a number of skeptics lurking in the shadows, as short interest on PCYC jumped by 12% during the last two reporting periods. These shorted shares now represent a lofty 10% of the security's float.
Notable Stocks at Annual Lows
- Shares of Research in Motion Limited (RIMM - 9.15) have taken a 7.2% tumble today, falling to a new low of $9.03 after being downgraded to "underweight" from "equalweight" at Morgan Stanley. However, this decline appears to be par for the course, as RIMM sits on a year-over-year loss of 68%, as well as a year-to-date drop of roughly 37%. It's no surprise that the wireless communications issue has been besieged with pessimism, as evidenced by its Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.30 -- indicating that puts outnumber calls among options expiring in the next three months. This ratio is just two percentage points away from a yearly acme, meaning that near-term options players have rarely been more put-heavy toward the stock over the past year. What's more, only two of the analysts covering RIMM have deemed it worthy of a "buy" or better rating, compared to 26 lukewarm "holds" and eight "sell" or worse recommendations.
- Marvell Technology Group (MRVL - 11.10) sank to a new low of $11.10 today, steepening its year-to-date decline to nearly 20%. Even so, bullish sentiment abounds on the semiconductor stock, which is reflected by its 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 56.29. This ratio -- which implies that calls bought to open have outstripped puts by a whopping 56 to one over the past two weeks -- is just one point shy of an annual peak. In other words, speculators have rarely snapped up calls over puts at a faster pace. This optimistic skew is further reflected by its 20-day call/put volume ratio of 12.77, as traders on these exchanges have bought to open nearly 13 calls for every put over the past month. This upbeat outlook toward MRVL has trickled over to Wall Street, as well, where the equity has earned 10 "strong buys" and six "buy" endorsements, compared to nine "holds" and zero "sell" ratings.
- Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF - 29.59) tagged a new low of $29.51 this morning, after being slapped with a price-target cut to $60 from $70 at Jefferies. The equity has been floundering on the charts lately, given its 52-week loss of 54%, and its underperformance of the SPX by roughly 39%. Yet there is still plenty of optimism surrounding the apparel retailer. Data from the ISE/CBOE/PHLX shows a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 7.32 for ANF, confirming that traders have bought to open calls over puts by a margin of more than seven to one during the past two weeks. This ratio -- which arrives in the 98th percentile of its annual range -- denotes a much healthier-than-usual appetite for calls over puts. However, it should be mentioned that short interest on ANF ramped up by over 22% during the most recent reporting period, and now accounts for a respectable 8% of the equity's float. This raises the possibility that short sellers looking to hedge their bets could be responsible for some of the recent call volume.
- Despite a lack of any notable headlines, Tiffany & Co. (TIF - 51.00) fell to a new low of $50.58 today, extending its 12-month slide to almost 31%, and its year-to-date drop to more than 22%. The stock remains pinned beneath its 10-week moving average, which has served as a ceiling since mid-April. As a result, there seems to be plenty of skeptics betting on the fine jewelry maven, considering its SOIR of 1.88, signaling that puts nearly double calls among the front three-months' series of options. This ratio ranks in the 93rd percentile of its annual range, which means that short-term options players have been more bearishly aligned toward the stock just 7% of the time during the last year. Meanwhile, Wall Street is pretty divided on TIF, as seven "strong buys" and two "buys" have been handed out, versus nine tepid "hold" recommendations, and nary a "sell" rating to be found.