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Analysts are weighing in today on social network Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), diagnostics firm EXACT Sciences Corporation (NASDAQ:EXAS), and solar concern SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR). Here's a quick roundup of today's bullish brokerage notes on FB, EXAS, and SPWR.
- FB received a price-target hike to $92 from $90 at JMP Securities, which also underscored its "outperform" rating on the equity. On the charts, the stock has tacked on a healthy 33.4% year-to-date, but is currently testing support at its 80-day moving average (located at $72.94). Taking a step back, this morning's bullish brokerage note is par for the course, as 29 out of 32 analysts covering Facebook Inc have doled out "buy" or better endorsements, compared to three "holds" and not a single "sell" recommendation. What's more, the security's average 12-month price target of $86.93 stands at a 19.2% premium to Friday's close at $72.91.
- After last week receiving word that its colon cancer test will be covered by Medicare and Medicaid -- and gapping nearly 36% higher on Friday as a result -- EXAS saw its price target raised by a trio of Wall Street experts. Specifically, Benchmark, Maxim, and Wedbush upped their respective expectations for the shares to $42 (from $25), to $12 (from $8), and to $19 (from $14). On the charts, EXACT Sciences Corporation has more than doubled in value this year to trade at $24.60. Nevertheless, nearly 33% of the stock's float is sold short, which would take about 13 sessions to buy back, at typical daily trading volumes. In other words, if EXAS can muscle higher, it could benefit from tailwinds as the short sellers race to cover their bearish bets.
- Finally, Raymond James upped its opinion on SPWR to "outperform" from "market perform." Not everyone's so confident of the shares, though. In particular, more than one-fifth of the stock's float is dedicated to short interest, which would take approximately seven sessions to repurchase, at SunPower Corporation's average daily trading levels. Should the security continue to strut up the charts -- SPWR has gained 12.3% since mid-April, when it touched an annual low of $25.38 -- a short-covering rally could ensue. At present, SPWR is perched at $28.49.
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U.S. stocks are taking diverging paths this afternoon, with blue chips attempting a rebound, while tech stocks suffer in the wake of a chipmaker slump, led by Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:MCHP). Meanwhile, other equities in focus include digital security firm Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC) and online travel titan Priceline Group Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN), which have also attracted analyst attention.
- MCHP is down 10.8% at $40.63, after CEO Steve Sanghi said, "We believe that another industry correction has begun and that this correction will be seen more broadly across the industry in the near future." The warning -- which accompanied lackluster fiscal second-quarter sales guidance -- has weighed on fellow tech titans like Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), and echoes a similar tune from Juniper Networks, Inc. (NYSE:JNPR). As a result, a slew of analysts have downwardly revised their opinions of MCHP, with no fewer than three brokerage firms cutting their price targets, and Needham downgrading the stock to "hold" from "buy." One relatively large group likely celebrating the plunge: short sellers. Short interest accounts for 11.7% of Microchip Technology Inc.'s total available float, representing roughly a month's worth of pent-up buying demand, at MCHP's average pace of trading.
- SYMC was last seen 3.5% lower at $22.61, after the firm announced plans to split into two publicly traded companies. In light of last night's news, Moody's and Standard & Poor's both put Symantec Corporation on review for possible downgrade, while Raymond James upgraded SYMC to "outperform" from "market perform." Likewise, Piper Jaffray upped its price target by $2 to $28 and underscored a "neutral" rating, while JMP Securities lifted its price target by $3 to $30 and reiterated an "outperform" endorsement. Most analysts are bearish when it comes to SYMC, as just three out of 19 brokerage firms offer up "buy" or better ratings.
- Finally, PCLN is trading 1.3% south of breakeven, at $1,088.35, due to a pair of price-target cuts. Specifically, Susquehanna cut its price target to $1,475 from $1,500 but maintained a "positive" opinion, while Evercore Partners slashed its price target to $1,250 from $1,350 and underscored a "hold" recommendation. The negative analyst attention is relatively rare for Priceline Group Inc, which boasts 16 "buy" or better ratings, compared to one lukewarm "hold" and not a single "sell." Technically speaking, PCLN has surrendered 6.4% year-to-date, and is in danger of ending the session at a 2014 closing low.
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Around midday, three of the top market movers are protective apparel maker Alpha Pro Tech, Ltd. (NYSEMKT:APT), policy enforcement expert Procera Networks Inc (NASDAQ:PKT), and offshore driller Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL). Here's a quick roundup of how APT, PKT, and SDRL are performing on the charts so far.
- APT is up 23.4% to trade at $5.97, helped by mounting Ebola fears. In fact, the stock hit a nearly five-year peak out of the gate, topping out at $6.86 this morning. Heading into today's session, the security had already doubled in value year-to-date, and given such technical tenacity, it's no shock to see that short sellers have kept their distance from Alpha Pro Tech, Ltd. Specifically, a miniscule 0.1% of the equity's float is sold short.
- PKT, meanwhile, has skidded to a more than 32% loss to hover near $5.80, and earlier hit a new three-year low of $5.67. The downside move follows the company's weaker-than-expected third-quarter revenue guidance, as well as a flurry of price-target cuts and downgrades from no fewer than six brokerage firms. Traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) are bearish toward Procera Networks Inc, as well. The stock's 50-day put/call volume ratio across this trio of exchanges is 0.55, which ranks in the 79th percentile of its annual range.
- Finally, SDRL is another major loser, off 8.7% to trade at $22.03 on a price-target reduction to NOK 160 from NOK 170 at Canaccord Genuity, which also reaffirmed its "sell" opinion of the shares. The firm cited soft deepwater rig rates as the reason for its downwardly adjusted outlook. With today's negative price action -- which included a new multi-year low of $22.01 -- the equity is now staring at a more than 46% year-to-date deficit. Taking a step back, this morning's bearish note is by no means the exception on Wall Street. Five out of seven analysts covering Seadrill Ltd have doled out "hold" or worse ratings toward the stock, compared to just two "buy" endorsements.
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Futures are pointed lower in pre-market trading, as U.S. stocks appear to be on the verge of extending yesterday's slide. In company news, today's stocks to watch include electric automaker Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), software heavyweight Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and energy services provider Civeo Corp (NYSE:CVEO).
- TSLA held its "D-Day" yesterday, and revealed a new dual-motor, all-wheel-drive Model S called the P85D. "This car is nuts. It's like taking off from a carrier deck," CEO Elon Musk said, referencing the vehicle's performance. "It's just bananas. It's like having your own personal roller coaster." Regardless of how Musk feels, it appears traders aren't impressed, with Tesla Motors Inc shares down more than 4% ahead of the bell. Taking a step back, the stock has advanced nearly 71% in 2014 to rest at $257.01, and has outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 20.5 percentage points during the last three months. Meanwhile, at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators have been buying to open puts relative to calls at an accelerated rate. TSLA's 10-day put/call volume ratio across these three exchanges is 0.93, in the 70th percentile of its annual range. However, some of these outwardly bearish bets may have been initiated by shareholders hedging against unexpected downside.
- Appearing at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Phoenix, MSFT CEO Satya Nadella drew criticism for saying that women shouldn't ask for raises, but should trust the "good karma" within the system. The executive quickly backtracked from these comments, remarking via Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) that he was "inarticulate," and calling for the tech industry to "close [the] gender pay gap so a raise is not needed because of a bias." On the charts, Microsoft Corporation is up 22.6% in 2014 to trade at $45.85, riding atop its 50-day moving average for most of that time. Nevertheless, half of the analysts covering the stock have handed out "hold" opinions, suggesting a round of upgrades and/or bullish initiations could be in the cards.
- Finally, Greenlight Capital's David Einhorn has taken a nearly 10% stake in CVEO, and is already pushing for CEO Bradley Dodson to be replaced. On the news, the shares are up 9% pre-market. While Civeo Corp has been publicly traded for less than five months, the equity is already sitting on a loss of 47.3%, at $12.26. Not surprisingly, short sellers have taken an interest in the stock. Specifically, 5.9% of CVEO's float is sold short, which would take approximately seven sessions to buy back, at the security's average daily trading volume.
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Analysts downwardly revised their ratings on streaming music concern Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P), online auctioneer eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), and travel site TripAdvisor Inc (NASDAQ:TRIP). Here's a quick look at today's bearish brokerage notes on P, EBAY, and TRIP.
- Since hitting a record high of $40.44 in early March, P has surrendered nearly 44% to churn at $22.72. This may be what prompted Susquehanna to cut its price target on the shares to $29 from $30, although the brokerage firm maintained its "positive" rating. This rather upbeat outlook toward the struggling stock is seen elsewhere on the Street, as well. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), for example, Pandora Media Inc's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 4.15 ranks higher than all other readings taken in the past year. In other words, long calls have been initiated over puts at an annual-high clip in recent weeks. Should P continue in its downward trajectory, an unwinding of these bullish bets could translate into additional headwinds for the shares.
- Susquehanna also weighed in on EBAY, ahead of the company's third-quarter earnings report -- slated for release after next Wednesday's close. Specifically, the brokerage firm cut its price target to $55 from $56 -- and underscored its "neutral" rating -- although this new target still sits north of EBAY's current perch at $52.86. Overall, the brokerage bunch is mixed on eBay Inc -- which is down 3.7% year-to-date. At present, 14 covering analysts maintain a "hold" rating on the shares, versus 14 "buy" or betters. Meanwhile, the consensus 12-month price target of $60.91 stands at a 15% premium to current trading levels.
- Evercore Partners cut its price target on TRIP to $100 from $110 and reiterated its "hold" rating, while Susquehanna dropped its target to $97 from $98 and backed its own "neutral" recommendation. This, despite the stock being down nearly 23% from its late-June all-time high of $111.24 to trade at $85.91 -- and not seeing the north side of the century mark since early September. Amid this steady downtrend, traders have shown an inclination toward puts over calls among options set to expire within the next three months. In fact, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.00 ranks just 9 percentage points from a 52-week peak, meaning short-term speculators have rarely been as put-heavy on TripAdvisor Inc as they are now. Elsewhere, short interest accounts for a lofty 11% of the equity's available float, and would take seven sessions to cover, at TRIP's average daily pace of trading.