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The markets are poised to start the week on a strong note, as investors express optimism ahead of this week's Federal Reserve meeting. Among equities in focus, here are some companies expected to garner a fair share of attention today:
- Contrary to reports by a Spanish newspaper, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is not attempting to acquire Telefonica S.A. (ADR) (NYSE:TEF). The alleged deal was worth $93 billion, and included AT&T assuming the Spanish company's 52 billion euros of debt. In an emphatically worded press release, however, Telefonica stated it "has not received any approach, nor any indication of interest, neither verbal nor in written form, from any party." (The New York Times)
- Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has a "big idea" to reveal on Thursday, but the social network isn't providing any clues as to what it might be. Journalists from major news outlets received paper invitations for the event, leading to plenty of speculation on what may be launched. One possibility is an alternative to the soon-to-be-defunct Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Reader -- but that's little more than a guess. (NBC News)
- Royalty Pharma's $8 billion bid to acquire Elan Corporation, plc (ADR) (NYSE:ELN) will lapse, as shareholders from the target company voted to approve a $200 million stock repurchase program. The buyout offer, which could have been worth up to $15.50 per share, required that the owners of ELN stock reject all four proposals that were floated at Elan's extraordinary general meeting today. (FirstWord Pharma)
- Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has struck a deal with Dreamworks Animation Skg Inc (NASDAQ:DWA), which will allow the streaming content provider to offer over 300 hours of first-run programming produced by the cartoon studio. The shows, which will be commercial free, will be based off of characters from hit movies like "Kung Fu Panda" and "Shrek." (CNBC)
- General Electric Company's (NYSE:GE) Capital Aviation Services plans to order 10 of The Boeing Company's (NYSE:BA) largest Dreamliner 787 jets. The company announced the purchase today at the Paris Air Show. (Bloomberg)
- One of Smithfield Foods, Inc.'s (NYSE:SFD) largest investors, Starboard Value LP, urged the company in a letter to break up into three parts -- U.S. pork production, hog farming, and international sales of fresh and packaged meats -- rather than be acquired by Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. Starboard says the company could be worth $44 to $55 a share if it breaks up, compared to $34 per share if purchased by Shuanghui. (The Wall Street Journal - subscription only)
- The U.S. government has reportedly sent Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) between 4,000 and 5,000 requests for data during a six-month time frame ending in May. The orders covered about 9,000 to 10,000 accounts and devices, which averages out to two per request and over 1,500 a month. (MarketWatch)
- The Oxford English Dictionary expanded the definition of the word "tweet" in its June update. The word, which used to only be recognized as an imitative word for bird calls, now includes two more meanings: "To make a posting on the social networking service Twitter" and "to use Twitter regularly or habitually," plus its use as a noun. (AllThingsD)
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Analysts are weighing in today on online game provider Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA), microprocessor developer ARM Holdings plc (ADR) (NASDAQ:ARMH), and software solutions firm Red Hat Inc (NYSE:RHT). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes.
- Down more than 49% on a year-over-year basis, ZNGA saw its price target lowered to $2.50 from $3.35 at Evercore this morning. The stock has also trailed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by about 20 percentage points during the past three months, so it's not surprising that most of the covering analysts are wary of Zynga Inc. The equity maintains just two "buy" or better ratings, versus 15 "holds" and two "sell" or worse recommendations. Interestingly, however, the security's average 12-month price target of $3.84 represents expected upside of about 36% from Friday's closing price of $2.82 -- suggesting further price-target cuts could be in the cards for ZNGA.
- ARMH -- which sports a 52-week gain of more than 74% to explore the $40.47 area -- was downgraded to "reduce" from "hold" at Numis in pre-market action. Sentiment in the options pits is equally downbeat, as the stock's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio sits at 2.70. In other words, puts bought to open have outpaced calls by a margin of nearly 3-to-1 during the past two weeks. This ratio registers in the 73rd annual percentile, meaning traders have been scooping up puts over calls at an accelerated pace.
- Finally, RHT was lowered to "neutral" from "positive" at Susquehanna ahead of the opening bell, where analysts also slashed their price target to $50 from $65. The stock has shed close to 14% so far this year and is presently perched at $45.81, yet the short-term options crowd remains bullishly skewed toward Red Hat Inc. The equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) checks in at 0.36, signaling calls nearly triple puts among the front three-months' series of options. This ratio ranks in the 18th percentile of its annual range, conveying near-term traders are more call-heavy toward the security than usual right now.
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Analysts are weighing in today on wireless services provider T-Mobile US, Inc. (NYSE:TMUS), semiconductor name Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (NASDAQ:MRVL), and tech concern Alcatel Lucent SA (ADR) (NYSE:ALU). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes.
- TMUS -- which has bested the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 14 percentage points during the past month and is priced at $22.16 -- scored a price-target hike to $26 from $23 at Macquarie today. Meanwhile, Baird initiated coverage of the stock with a "neutral" rating and a price target of $22. Elsewhere, short-term traders have been bullishly biased toward T-Mobile US, Inc. The equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) sits at 0.19, confirming calls outpace puts by a margin of more than 5-to-1 among options expiring in the next three months. This ratio is just 4 percentage points above a yearly nadir, meaning near-term options players have rarely been more call-heavy toward the security during the past year.
- Up roughly 52% year-to-date to trade at $11.01, MRVL was upgraded to "positive" from "neutral," and saw its price target lifted to $14 from $10 at Susquehanna this morning. The brokerage firm noted, "After a long wait, we think MRVL is finally beginning to see some traction in their wireless business and we don't think this is reflected in Street estimates or in investor sentiment." Meanwhile, data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 22.34 for Marvell Technology Group Ltd., indicating traders have bought to open more than 22 calls for every put during the past two weeks. This ratio ranks higher than 79% of similar annual readings, reflecting a healthier-than-usual appetite for calls over puts.
- Analysts at Citigroup raised their price target for ALU to 1.45 euros from 1.20 euros ahead of the opening bell. Technically speaking, Alcatel Lucent SA (ADR) has gained more than 35% so far this year, yet the sentiment scales among the brokerage bunch remain bearishly tipped. Only three analysts have offered up "buy" or better endorsements, compared to two "holds" and three "sell" or worse suggestions. Even more telling, Thomson Reuters shows an average 12-month price target of $1.74 for the stock, denoting a discount to Friday's closing price of $1.88. In other words, further upgrades and/or price-target hikes could be on the horizon for ALU, which could propel the security higher.
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It feels like about 99 problems are facing the markets now, but The Fed Tightening Someday sure seems like No. 1.
Alan Ruskin of Deutsche Bank came up with the five stages of grief about the tapering, recounted here in WSJ MoneyBeat:
Stage 1, Denial: Remember when QE meant QE for an eternity?
Stage 2. Anger: The more the Fed has tried to clarify their intentions the more they have confused. The more they promise to fine-tune QE, the more policy flexibility introduces volatility around every data release. What data parameters will drive tapering? Will they taper MBS, and/or Treasuries, and in what increments will they taper, are some basic sources of uncertainty. And uncertainty is then left to dominate markets.
Stage 3. Bargaining. As the market drives down risky asset prices and drives up yields, arguably the 'bond vigilantes' are pre-empting Fed actions, prematurely tightening. The bargaining is around whether the market has done enough tightening of financial conditions such that the Fed no longer has to be a disruptive and reduce QE? The bargaining is about wrestling for control. Who is in charge, the markets, or the Fed? Some may not see much of a bargain here, it still leads to a tightening of financial conditions regardless of who is in charge, which leads to…
Stage 4. Depression. Not economic depression, but depressed risk appetite.
Lastly after the selloff in stage 4, comes…
Stage 5, Acceptance. The market has largely re-equilibrated to the removal of accommodation.
In his estimation, we're nowhere near Stage 5 quite yet.
It's presumably intended as an amusing piece that rings somewhat true. If that's the case, it's a spot-on analysis of how the market handles Big Important News in general, and this Fed story in particular. It's never about the news itself, it's about the market's timetable in digesting the news. It's apparently official now: The Fed is pulling the punch bowl away! Someday. That day apparently isn't coming anytime soon, as the Fed is expected to dissuade the market of that notion in the coming week.
But it doesn't matter. The market is convinced it's coming. If anything, the Fed saying it's NOT happening might not help just yet. The market has now decided it's on the radar. And there's a perception, probably not entirely based on fact, that the market is as high as it is solely because the Fed has propped it up.
So where are we on the stages of grief? Probably Stage 3, bordering on Stage 4. Junk bonds, to name one risky asset, have gotten absolutely plowed. Emerging markets have been slammed as well. It wasn't that long ago that gold got hammered. And so on. There's a definite repricing of risk going on.
Who knows how long "depression" will last? But "acceptance" will surely follow. Say the Fed actually does announce they're "tapering." The markets will likely rally strongly as they'll have already discounted the move. The Twitternets will bustle with howls of disbelief that the market's flying in the face of bad news, but that's what markets do.
Disclaimer: The views represented on this blog are those of the individual author only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) is down 92 points, or 0.6%, to 15,083.77, as anxieties over how soon the Fed will taper its current stimulus measures continue to weigh on investors. On the economic front, the Labor Department said its producer price index (PPI) climbed by a larger-than-expected 0.5% in May, while core prices edged 0.1% higher, matching consensus estimates. Meanwhile, the preliminary reading of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for June arrived at 82.7 -- down from May's final reading of 84.5, and disappointing economists, who were expecting a smaller decline. Also of note, industrial production remained flat last month, according to the Fed, while capacity utilization dipped 0.1% to 77.6%. Both figures fell short of economists' projections.
Here are a few noteworthy stats at midday:
- The equity put/call volume ratio across all 11 options exchanges is docked at 0.91, with 3.3 million calls exchanged so far today, versus 3.0 million puts.
- Among the equities with call-skewed activity is Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC), which has gained about 5.2% since the opening bell, thanks to some upbeat sales and guidance news. The update also prompted Wedbush Securities to raise its price target for the stock to $10 from $9 this morning. Currently, calls make up 67.5% of the security's intraday option volume. At last check, SWHC was trading at $9.78.
- The Nasdaq shows an advance/decline ratio of 0.47, with the number of downward movers more than doubling the advancers.
- Among the Nasdaq's major decliners is Veeco Instruments Inc. (NASDAQ:VECO), which has dropped about 2.9% in intraday action, amid comments made by UBS. Specifically, the brokerage firm reiterated its tepid "hold" recommendation for the stock, noting that the company continues to face pricing pressures for its metal organic deposition epitaxial systems. VECO is presently trading at $38.21.
- Optimism increased during the week ended June 12, according to the latest survey by the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII). The percentage of investors with a bullish view on stocks rose to 33.0% from 29.5%, while the percentage bearish fell to 34.6% from 38.9%. Meanwhile, the percentage neutral climbed to 32.4% from 31.6%.
- The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) is 0.5 point, or 3.3%, higher, to rest at 16.95.
- The put/call volume ratio on the iPath S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures ETN (NYSEARCA:VXX) -- which is currently perched at 20.55 -- stands at 0.96, with calls slightly outnumbering puts.
View a real-time chart of the Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI).