Stocks quoted in this article:
The major market indexes are battling for weekly wins today, as Wall Street appears cautiously optimistic ahead of this weekend's elections in Greece -- which will chart the course for euro-zone and global economic health. Reflecting this sentiment, the NYSE has racked up 60 stocks at new annual highs, along with 26 fresh lows. Over on the Nasdaq, there are currently 45 fresh highs and 30 annual lows. Among the stocks hitting notable technical milestones today are Duke Energy Corporation (DUK), UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), Whole Foods Market, Inc. (WFM), GameStop Corp. (GME), Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (TTWO), and AAR Corp. (AIR).
Notable Stocks at Annual Highs
- Just after the opening bell, Duke Energy (DUK - 23.22) jumped to a more than 10-year best of $23.35, amplifying its 26.4% year-over-year upswing. Despite this overall strength, though, the stock is still bombarded by downbeat brokerages. There are 13 middling "holds" compared to just two "strong buys." A fresh round of upgrades could boost DUK even higher in the near term.
- UnitedHealth Group (UNH - 59.54) tapped the $59.85 mark today, marking its highest price in over six years. Currently, the shares are within range of settling at their best price since January 2006. Over the past 12 months, the stock has added 20.8%, while its Relative Strength Index (RSI) arrives at a somewhat elevated 61. Most analysts are upbeat toward UNH, as 13 out of 17 consider it "buy" or better.
- This morning, Whole Foods Market (WFM - 93.93) soared to a fresh all-time of $94.70, on the heels of J.P. Morgan's comments on Kroger's (KR) quarterly results. The brokerage said that even though KR consistently posts strong top-line numbers, it doesn't sway their preference for a non-traditional grocer like WFM. On the charts, WFM has been a steady overachiever, gaining an impressive 74.1% during the past year. In fact, over the past three months, the stock has outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 15%. Despite this impressive price action, the options pits are teeming with doubt. During the past two weeks, speculators on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open 1.76 puts for every call. This ratio is in the 90th percentile of its annual range, signaling that traders on these exchanges have rarely made bearish bets over bullish at a faster pace during the past year.
Notable Stocks at Annual Lows
- GameStop (GME - 17.77) slid to $17.11 this morning -- its lowest price since November 2008 -- following a report that showed a 28% dip in sales of video game hardware, software, and accessories in May. During the past three months, GEN has lagged the broader SPX by roughly 24%, and has lost more than 32.3% during the past year. The majority of analysts are already skeptical of GME, though there is still room on the bearish bandwagon. While there are nine "holds" and one "strong sell," there are seven "buy" or better endorsements.
- Also suffering in the wake of the disappointing video game sales data, Take-Two Interactive Software (TTWO - 9.82) dropped to a 21-month-bottom of $9.61. Over the past 12 months, the stock has backpedaled almost 33%, but its Relative Strength Index (RSI) arrives at a slim 30, suggesting the stock is approaching oversold territory. Downgrades could push the stock even lower, as 10 brokerage firms out of 14 maintain a "strong buy" rating.
- AAR Corp. (AIR - 10.74) last night projected its fiscal third-quarter and full-year earnings to land below expectations. With that, the stock retreated to its worst level since March 2009, and exacerbated its 57.6% 52-week deficit. At last check, AIR is in danger of notching its first weekly close below $11 in three years. And things could get even worse, as the aerospace issue has racked up four "strong buys," one tepid "hold," and zero "sells," leaving wide open the possibility of broker downgrades.