Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)
MSFT kicked off its annual Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Houston, Texas, yesterday. At the week-long event, top MSFT partners will learn about the modern era of computing, through four main areas of content: Cloud, Big Data, Devices & Mobility, and Enterprise Social. On the charts, MSFT has tacked on a modest 13% over the past 52 weeks to trade at $34.12.
Despite this tepid price action, no fewer than 14 out of 29 analysts maintain a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation toward MSFT, with not a single "sell" to be found. Should the stock continue to put forth a lackluster showing on the charts, a round of downgrades could translate into some contrarian-related headwinds down the road.
Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)
On Tuesday, BBRY will hold its Annual and Special Meeting of Shareholders, at which there is likely to be much buzz about the stock's 19.7% year-to-date decline to its current price of $9.58. Even more, BBRY has dropped more than 31% in the past month alone, trailing the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 30.6 percentage points.
Therefore, it's no wonder why sentiment toward BBRY is bearishly skewed. Specifically, 17 of the 28 analysts weighing in give the stock a dismal "sell" or worse recommendation, while seven consider it a "hold," and only four endorse it as a "buy" or better. Moreover, short interest accounts for a whopping 37.6% of BBRY's available float, which would take more than nine sessions for the short sellers to buy back, at the stock's average pace of trading.
Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX)
CVX is gearing up to issue its interim second-quarter update for fiscal 2013 on Wednesday. So far this year, CVX has enjoyed an upward trek of 12.9% on the charts, and the brokerage bunch is betting this trend will continue. Specifically, analysts hold a consensus 12-month price target of $132.27, which represents expected upside of 8.6% from its current level of $121.85.
Inside CVX's options pits, near-term speculators are optimistic, as well. In fact, CVX's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) comes in at 0.79, with call open interest outnumbering put open interest by a margin of nearly 5-to-4. Moreover, this ratio ranks just 4 percentage points above its 12-month nadir, meaning put open interest, compared to call open interest, is at a near-annual low among options expiring in three months or less.
It is important to note that CVX is set to report its second-quarter earnings before the market opens on Aug. 2, and analysts are calling for a per-share profit of $3.03, down from $3.56 the prior year.
General Mills, Inc. (NYSE:GIS)
Finally, GIS will hold its Fiscal 2014 Investor Day, at which the company will discuss its plans for continuing growth in fiscal 2014, at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. Over the past year, the stock has tacked on almost 27%, and the brokerage bunch has high hopes for future success. Of the 15 analysts weighing in, 10 endorse GIS as a "strong buy" and one considers it a "buy," while just four give it a lukewarm "hold" rating.
In the options pits, speculators at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open 71 GIS puts for every 100 calls during the last 50 sessions, resulting in a 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.71. However, this ratio ranks in the 64th percentile of its annual range, meaning speculators are bearishly skewed, snatching up puts over calls at a faster-than-usual pace.
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