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U.S. stocks are moderately lower this afternoon, following the World Bank's poor outlook for economic growth in China, and ahead of this week's European Central Bank (ECB) meeting. Despite the skeptical sentiment, the number of stocks making new annual highs is overshadowing those touching new lows. There are 88 annual peaks, versus just five bottoms on the NYSE. Meanwhile, the results are a bit closer over on the Nasdaq, where there are 40 new highs and 26 lows. Among the names making notable runs today are Affymetrix, Inc. (NASDAQ:AFFX - 3.64), American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG - 35.60), Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM - 39.60), and Intersil Corp (NASDAQ:ISIL - 7.46).
- First up, AFFX this morning said its third-quarter revenue will probably arrive below the consensus view, due to a "tightening" in the global academic funding environment. With that, the stock tumbled roughly 20% to the $3.45 level -- its lowest point since April 2009 – bringing its 2012 return to almost -11%. Technically speaking, though, the shares haven't been performing too well for quite some time. AFFX has lagged the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 11 percentage points during the past three months, and has backpedaled 20.5% on a year-over-year basis. And, there appears to be a fair amount of pessimism already levied against the firm. Despite inching 0.8% lower over most recent reporting period, short interest still accounts for 17.6% of the security's available float. In fact, at AFFX's average pace of trading, it would take more than three weeks to buy back all of these shorted shares.
- Next up … AIG built on its notable 51.9% year-to-date rise this morning, notching a 19-month best of $35.71. The options crowd is lined with negativity, though, which could unravel, should the shares prolong their overall ascent. AIG's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.58 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) ranks in the 86th percentile of its annual range, signaling that traders on these exchanges have made bearish bets over bullish at a faster pace than usual during the past two weeks. What's more, the stock's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.56 resides 10 percentage points from an annual high.
- Content delivery and cloud infrastructure business AKAM rallied to the $40.32 mark today, finding its loftiest price since April 2011. On a relative-strength basis, the equity has outpaced the SPX by 21.7 percentage points during the past three months, which has only accentuated the equity's impressive 71.2% 52-week climb. Elsewhere on the Street, options traders are on board with this uptrend. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) checks in at 0.49, conveying that calls more than double puts among options expiring within three months. This ratio registers in the third percentile of its annual range, suggesting that near-term options players have been more call-heavy toward AKAM just 3% of the time during the past year.
- Finally, ISIL tripped to an analyst-induced four-year worst of $7.31 this morning. Specifically, JPMorgan downgraded the semiconductor issue to "underweight" from "neutral," and cut its price target by $3 to $5. Consequently, the stock's 27.9% year-to-date deficit could swell, should analysts continue to be disappointed by the shares. There are three "strong buys" and 16 middling "holds" for ISIL, while the average 12-month price target sits at $10.75, representing a 47% premium to today's fresh low.
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