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Analysts are weighing in today on Oliver Garden parent Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI), as well as biopharmaceutical firms SAGE Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:SAGE) and Shire PLC (ADR) (NASDAQ:SHPG). Here's a quick look at today's brokerage notes on DRI, SAGE, and SHPG.
- DRI is up 3.8% to reach $67.31 -- and earlier touched an all-time high of $67.38 -- after last night's fiscal third-quarter earnings beat. The news prompted Keybanc to raise its price target on the equity to $70 from $62. Additionally, Keybanc reiterated its "overweight" opinion of Darden Restaurants, Inc., which also announced it is exploring real estate options. Looking back, the shares of Darden Restaurants, Inc. have been soaring, up 54.5% since touching an annual low of $43.56 on July 17. Despite this positive uptrend, there's still plenty of room on the bullish bandwagon, as over half of covering analysts rate the stock a "hold" or worse. What's more, DRI's consensus 12-month price target of $59.83 sits below current trading levels, leaving the door wide open for more bullish analyst attention to create tailwinds.
- William Blair initiated coverage on SAGE with a lofty $75 price target and an "outperform" rating, with the price target representing a 36.6% premium to the shares' current perch of $54.90. Today, SAGE is up 6.5% -- and earlier touched an all-time high of $55.01 -- bringing the equity's year-to-date gain to a staggering 50%. The brokerage bunch is unanimously bullish on the security, as all four covering analysts rate SAGE Therapeutics Inc a "strong buy." Elsewhere, short interest decreased by over 17% over the past reporting period, but still represents roughly 7.4% of SAGE's available float, which would take over five sessions to cover, at average trading volumes.
- Bernstein lifted its price target on SHPG to $295 -- in uncharted territory -- from $193 and revised its rating to "outperform" from "market perform," sending the shares up 1.9% to hit $255.32. On the charts, Shire PLC has been a technical beast, with the shares up over 71.4% year-over-year. Surprisingly, bearish sentiment in the options pits has reached an annual peak, as SHPG's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 4.50 stands higher than all other equivalent readings taken over the past year.
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It's been a volatile week on the charts, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) tracking a 400-point range (with both the intra-week high and low occurring in Wednesday's Fed-driven session) thus far. In fact, the Dow -- which now includes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) -- is on pace to make its 10th triple-digit move in 11 sessions. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) made its first foray north of the 5,000 mark since March 2 -- and touched a 15-year high today -- while the S&P 500 Index (SPX) is on pace to notch its first weekly close north of 2,100 since late February. Additionally, small-caps put in a strong showing, with the Russell 2000 Index (RUT) hitting a record high in three out of five sessions this week. Off the charts, a number of stories grabbed the attention of those on and off Wall Street. Here's a quick recap of some headlines that hit this week.
- The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) surprised no one on Wednesday, when it chose to remove the word "patient" from its policy statement -- leaving the door open for an interest-rate hike as early as June. However, Fed Chair Janet Yellen did her best to clarify, saying, "Just because we removed the word 'patient' from the statement doesn't mean we are going to be impatient."
- March Madness got underway on Thursday, with 64 teams vying for their chance to take home the title. President Barack Obama is still in the race with his Kentucky pick, as is Schaeffer's contributor Adam Warner with his pick. Me? My bracket was busted in three hours, courtesy of these guys.
- In corporate news, not only did shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) hit uncharted territory this week, but the company unveiled a new cash-sending feature. Additionally, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) said they are teaming up to bring a cloud-based network to cars, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) cleared a hurdle in New Jersey and ended "range anxiety," and Biogen Idec Inc's (NASDAQ:BIIB) Alzheimer's drug showed promise in an early stage trial.
- Spring starts today. What will most likely come as a shock to some -- particularly those in the Northeast, who are expecting yet another big snowstorm this weekend -- we're coming off the warmest winter on record. Your timing is impeccable, Mr. President.
- In overseas news, Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected prime minister of Israel, while European Union (EU) officials are hoping to hash out a new fiscal arrangement with Greece. At a two-day summit which concludes today, Greece is expected to commit to submitting a new economic reform plan. Elsewhere, a little more than two months after terrorists bombed a satirical magazine in France, Islamic State extremists attacked the National Bardo Museum in Tunis, claiming the lives of at least 21 people.
- Justin Bieber gets roasted on Comedy Central on Monday, March 30. Ahead of the event, Biebs headed to The Ellen DeGeneres Show where he played "Never Have I Ever" with Madonna and Ellen. Let's just say, Justin's answers were not very beliebable.
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U.S. stocks appear poised to rebound this morning, which would be an appropriate end to what's been an extremely volatile week. In company news, today's stocks to watch include luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF), as well as biotechs Biogen Idec Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB) and Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT).
- TIF is bracing for a 3.3% drop out of the gate, after the firm posted its first year-over-year sales decline in five years during the fourth quarter, and predicted a 10% drop for the current quarter. However, the company's per-share fourth-quarter profit of $1.51 was in line with the Street's consensus estimate. On the charts, it's been a bad year for Tiffany & Co., which has plunged more than 19% since the start of 2015 to rest at $86.37, and earlier this month touched an annual low of $82.75. Yet, the majority of covering analysts maintain "buy" or better recommendations on the stock, and its average 12-month price target of $103.77 stands at a 20% premium to Thursday's close. This leaves the door wide open for a potential round of downgrades and/or price-target reductions.
- An Alzheimer's drug developed by BIIB produced "statistically significant" evidence of slowing the disease's effects on patients during an early stage study. The pharmaceutical firm will now advance the treatment to late-stage clinical trials, pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration. Investors are reacting positively to the news, with shares of Biogen Idec Inc sitting nearly 10% higher ahead of the bell -- which would add to the stock's 27.8% year-to-date climb to $433.65, and put the shares in record-high territory once again. Most brokerage firms are already in BIIB's bullish corner, with 12 of 16 doling out "buy" or better ratings, versus four "holds" and not a single "sell." Echoing this, both Piper Jaffray and Cowen and Company boosted their price targets on BIIB to $500 this morning.
- Finally, ICPT also appears ready to run higher, after a Phase 2b FLINT trial of obeticholic acid (OCA) showed promise in treating patients with neglected chronic liver diseases. The company will present its data today at the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) and Industry Colloquium, which is focused on novel targets and therapies. Shifting gears, Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc is sitting roughly 9% above the flatline in electronic trading, which is more of the same for a stock that's advanced 85% year-to-date to rest at $288.51. Meanwhile, bullish betting is running fast and furious at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). ICPT's 50-day call/put volume ratio across those exchanges is 2.53, which ranks in the 97th percentile of its annual range.
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Analysts are weighing in today on athletic apparel maker Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE), diversified tech firm Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE:HON), and home furnishing specialist Pier 1 Imports Inc (NYSE:PIR). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on NKE, HON, and PIR.
- The shares of NKE are pointed 5.4% higher in electronic trading -- and are headed for record-high, triple-digit territory -- after the firm released fiscal third-quarter earnings that topped the Street's estimates. In response, no fewer than 11 brokerage firms upwardly revised their price targets on Nike Inc. Drilling down, the most dramatic hikes came from J.P. Morgan Securities and Buckingham Research, with the former lifting its price target by $6 to $116 and the latter raising its price target by $16 to $122. Both firms reiterated the equivalent of "buy" ratings. On the charts, NKE has been a technical outperformer, with the shares up 24% year-over-year to close yesterday at $98.32. However, puts have been prominent in the options pits, as NKE's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 1.17 stands higher than 91% of all equivalent readings taken over the past year.
- Goldman Sachs added HON to "America's conviction buy" list, sending the shares up 1.4% in electronic trading. Looking back, Honeywell International Inc. has been in recovery mode, with the shares up 24.3% from their Oct. 15 annual low of $82.89 to close yesterday at $103.02. However, sentiment has been bearish in the options pits, as HON's 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 0.98 sits in the 96th percentile of its annual range. Likewise, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.34 stands higher than 97% of all other readings from the past year, suggesting short-term traders have rarely been more put-biased.
- PIR is over 5.1% higher in electronic trading, after Oppenheimer upgraded the equity to "outperform" from "market perform." The revision comes as Pier 1 Imports Inc is rebounding from its annual low of $11.38, touched in mid-February, with the shares up 11.2% so far in March. Calls have been popular in the options pits, as PIR's 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 5.50 ranks higher than 83% of all equivalent readings taken over the past 12 months. Elsewhere, the brokerage bunch is lukewarm at best on the security, as 11 out of 13 covering analysts rate the stock a tepid "hold" or worse.
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Analysts are weighing in today on online commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA), computer software concern Tableau Software Inc (NYSE:DATA), and Internet television company Youku Tudou Inc (ADR) (NYSE:YOKU). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes on BABA, DATA, and YOKU.
- Ahead of the open, BABA is brushing off a price-target cut at J.P. Morgan Securities to $109 from $117, with shares pointed 0.9% higher. It's been a disappointing year for the equity, as it's off 17.5%, closing yesterday at $85.74. Analysts don't seem to mind, though. All 22 brokerage firms covering Alibaba Group Holding Ltd deem it a "buy" or better. On top of this, the stock's average 12-month price target of $110.78 stands at a 29% premium to current trading levels.
- Mizuho dropped DATA to "neutral" from "buy" this morning, sending the equity 1% lower in electronic trading. Lately, options traders have been placing bullish bets over bearish on Tableau Software Inc. The stock's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 3.83 sits in the 82nd percentile of its annual range, suggesting calls have been bought to open over puts at a rapid-fire pace. The shares have fared well recently, with an early February, earnings-induced bull gap helping them outperform the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by nearly 15 percentage points over the past two months. DATA settled at $97.45 yesterday.
- Disappointing fourth-quarter numbers are weighing on YOKU ahead of the bell, with shares facing a potential 4.8% drop out of the gate. Also, Brean Capital has cut its price target to $20 from $24, yet kept its "buy" assessment. The security has been trending lower for a while now, losing 47.9% of its value year-over-year to perch at $15.15. No surprise, then, to see bearish traders stepping up. Over 10% of Youku Tudou Inc's float is sold short, representing over 14 trading sessions, at normal daily volumes.