Stocks quoted in this article:
The major indexes continue to hover near breakeven this afternoon, as investors have shrugged off a round of positive economic reports ahead of Friday's widely anticipated central bank meeting. Although it's been a fairly light trading session, the NYSE still has 77 securities at fresh 52-week peaks, and just 21 at new lows. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq shows 35 equities at new annual highs, compared to only 15 lows. Among the stocks making notable runs today are The TJX Companies, Inc. (NYSE:TJX - 46.53), Whole Foods Market, Inc. (NASDAQ:WFM - 97.05), Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL - 10.92), and Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN - 4.30).
- Tentatively on tap to report August sales before tomorrow's open,TJX has managed to tag a new record high of $46.56 today. The stock currently sits on a year-over-year gain of more than 66%, but that hasn't swayed traders from picking up near-term puts. The Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) checks in at 2.81, confirming that puts nearly triple calls among the front three-months' series of options. This ratio is just eight percentage points shy of a yearly peak, meaning short-term options players have rarely been more put-heavy toward the stock.
- Despite a lack of notable headlines, WFM has edged high enough to touch a new all-time peak of $98.47 today. With a 52-week gain of almost 52% -- and a year-to-date advance of more than 39% -- it stands to reason that most of the analysts covering the stock hold WFM in high regard. In fact, the equity boasts 16 "buy" or better endorsements, compared to just eight "holds" and not a single "sell" suggestion in sight. However, Thomson Reuters shows an average 12-month price target of $103.15 for the security -- representing expected upside of just 6.5% to yesterday's closing price of $96.79.
- Although DELL is just fractionally higher this afternoon, the stock still managed to slip to a new multi-year low of $10.87 earlier in the session. Currently, the equity sits on a 12-month decline of roughly 27%, which may be attracting bears in the options pits. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 50-day put/call volume ratio of 2.22 for DELL, meaning traders have bought to open more than two puts for every call during the past few months. This ratio is just eight percentage points shy of an annual high, reflecting a much stronger-than-usual preference for puts over calls lately.
- Last but not least, beleaguered GRPN fell to a new all-time bottom of $4.26 today, and is on pace to widen its current year-to-date loss of more than 79%. The stock has also woefully underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 59 percentage points during the past three months. With such technical weakness, it's no surprise that short interest on the security has shot up by roughly 23% during the past two reporting periods. In fact, these bearish bets account for a lofty 20% of the equity's available float.