Stocks quoted in this article:
Ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) release of its September meeting minutes, the bulls are leading the march on Wall Street today, as equities are noticeably in the black this afternoon. Consequently, the number of stocks leaping to new annual highs is outweighing those at fresh lows. At last look, the NYSE has tallied 174 securities at annual peaks, and nine at new bottoms. Over on the Nasdaq, meanwhile, there are 89 new highs and 24 lows. Among the names making notable runs today are Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI - 11.33), KB Home (NYSE:KBH - 15.41), Pfizer Inc, (NYSE:PFE - 25.40), and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ - 46.74).
- Things haven't been too bright for video-game publisher ATVI, technically speaking, as the shares have retreated 8.8% since the beginning of the year. On a relative-strength basis, the stock has lagged the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 13 percentage points over the past 60 sessions. And just today, ATVI exacerbated this overall weakness with a 14-month bottom of $10.98, which could prompt the bullish brokerage holdouts to rethink their positions. Currently, there are 16 "strong buys," four middling "holds," and not a single "sell" in sight.
- On the other side of the spectrum is KBH, which jumped to the $15.75 mark earlier today -- its loftiest price since January 2011. The homebuilder has benefited from the recent influx of upbeat data for the housing sector, and has surged more than 128% in 2012, outpacing the SPX by 47.8 percentage points during the past three months. Despite this impressive technical performance, the skeptics have a firm grip on KBH. Only three of the 16 analysts covering the stock have doled out a "buy" or better endorsement, while the average 12-month price target of $13.69 represents a $2.06 discount to today's fresh peak.
- Dow heavyweight PFE announced that its streptococcus pneumonia vaccine, Prevenar 13, met the main goal of a late-stage trial, helping to support a European regulatory application to market the drug in the 18-49 age group. Wall Street applauded the news, and buoyed the stock to a five-year best of $25.47. On the charts, the blue chip has added 17% year-to-date, which has grabbed some upbeat attention from the options crowd. PFE's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 2.84 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) ranks in the 76th percentile of its annual range, signaling that traders on these exchanges have scooped up bullish bets over bearish at a faster pace than usual during the past few months. To boot, the security's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 4.19 lands 17 percentage points from an annual high.
- Lastly, VZ shot to an 11-year acme of $46.75 just moment ago, amplifying its healthy 15% year-to-date return. The wireless provider could make its way even higher, should the negativity in the options pits begin to unwind. VZ's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) arrives at 2.01, signaling that puts double calls among options expiring within three months. This ratio ranks in the 89th percentile of its annual range, suggesting short-term speculators have been more put-heavy toward the stock less than a quarter of the time over the past year.
Here are some additional articles of interest: