Stocks quoted in this article:
Despite early weakness stemming from a not-quite-clear Congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the bulls have taken back the Street, pushing stocks moderately higher. So far today, the number of stocks at new annual highs is topping the number of stocks at new lows. The NYSE has seen 167 securities at 52-week peaks, while the Nasdaq has racked up 59 annual highs. Among the equities tagging new peaks are American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ:AGNC - 35.35), The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS - 49.74), and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE - 23.56).
- AGNC surged to a new all-time best of $35.58 this morning. AGNC has done quite well for itself on the charts lately, adding 20.8% in during the past 52 weeks, and outpacing the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 16.7 percentage points over the past three months. This upbeat price action hasn't gone unnoticed, as 13 out of the 17 analysts following the stock consider it a "buy" or better. But the options pits are swarming with pessimism toward AGNC. During the past two weeks, speculators on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open 3.59 puts for every call. This ratio is in the 99th percentile of its annual range, signaling that traders on these exchanges have rarely made bearish bets over bullish at a faster pace during the past year.
- After an upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" from Bank of America-Merrill Lynch this morning, DIS pierced the $49 level for the first time ever, soaring to a new all-time high of $49.89. During the past 60 sessions, the shares have outpaced the broader SPX by more than 15 percentage points, and have enjoyed a 12-month rise of 26.7%. The brokerage bunch is mostly upbeat toward this Dow heavyweight, as 16 out of 25 have doled out "buy" or better endorsements.
- As Wall Street awaits to hear the latest top-line results from PFE and Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Alzheimer drug, Bapineuzumab, the former stock climbed to the $23.71 mark today -- its highest price since February 2008. With the blue chip sitting on a modest 19.4% year-over-year gain, option speculators are bullishly aligned. The Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) stands at 0.69, lower than 78% of the past year's readings, signifying a preference for calls among options expiring within three months.
Click here to read the new lows list, including New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. (ADR) (NYSE:EDU) guidance-spurred tumble.