During the last two weeks, a bevy of securities have seen notable increases in short interest -- a handful of which are outperformers on the technical front. From a contrarian perspective, this increase in skepticism could end up serving as a tailwind down the road. Here's a more in-depth look at three stocks that have been climbing the charts, despite all the naysayers.
Flowers Foods, Inc. (NYSE:FLO) has been a technical standout lately, surging approximately 52% so far this year to trade at $23.57. The equity also tagged a record high of $24.17 in mid-May, courtesy of a stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings report. Meanwhile, the stock's recent pullback was contained by its 20-week moving average, which has acted as a floor since November.
Nevertheless, short interest on the bakery products guru skyrocketed by almost 61% during the most recent reporting period, bringing the number of shares sold short to 5.7 million. This is the equivalent of more than four days' worth of pent-up buying demand, at the security's average pace of trading -- pointing to an ample amount of sideline cash. In other words, FLO could end up benefiting from a wave of short-covering activity down the road. Also of note, Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for Flowers Foods, Inc. sits at 1.34, indicating puts outstrip calls among options scheduled to expire within the next three months. This ratio arrives in the 88th percentile of its annual range, denoting a healthier-than-usual appetite for near-term puts over calls. An unwinding of these bearish bets could end up translating into options-related support down the road.
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:MDRX) has enjoyed a banner year on the charts, cruising nearly 65% higher in 2013 to perch at $15.51. In fact, the stock touched a new annual peak of $15.60 this morning, despite receiving a downgrade to "neutral" from "buy" at International Strategy & Investment Group over the weekend. Additionally, the equity is on pace to finish July atop its 20-month moving average -- a feat accomplished only one other time since February 2012.
However, skeptics continue to pile onto the medical software concern. Short interest spiked by roughly 53% during the past two weeks, and now these pessimistic plays represent a healthy 4.5% of the stock's available float. Should MDRX continue to make its way up the charts, it could spark a mass exodus by the shorts -- and thus add more fuel to the equity's tank. Meanwhile, the aforementioned negative analyst attention is more of the same for Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. Only six brokerage firms have deemed the security worthy of a "buy" or better endorsement, compared to 11 "holds" and one "strong sell" suggestion. What's more, Thomson Reuters shows an average 12-month price target of $14.82 for MDRX, denoting a discount to its current price. This leaves plenty of room for a round of upgrades and/or price-target hikes, which could push the shares higher.
Last but not least, The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE:BK) has gained almost 18% year-to-date -- and roughly 39% on a year-over-year basis -- to wink at the $30.27 level. The banking concern gapped higher today, after analysts at Citigroup upgraded the stock to "buy" from "neutral" in pre-market activity. Further proof of the equity's technical tenacity lies in the fact that its late-June downturn was cushioned by its 32-week moving average, which has acted as support for almost a year.
Still, there is plenty of doubt surrounding the security, as BK saw a near 39% rise in short interest during the latest reporting period. In fact, the number of shares sold short now stands at 15.2 million -- more than enough sideline cash to spark a short-covering rally, should the stock continue along its upward trajectory. Elsewhere, data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.22 for The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, indicating puts bought to open have more than doubled calls during the past two weeks. This ratio ranks higher than 88% of similar annual readings, meaning traders have been scooping up puts over calls at a faster-than-usual pace. This accumulation of out-of-the-money puts -- particularly in the July series of options -- could end up boosting the shares higher, as front-month expiration approaches.
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