Stocks quoted in this article:
While markets appear sluggish in late-morning trading, here is a quick update on today's latest brokerage notes, including changes for social networking namesake Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB – 25.63), casual footwear maker Crocs, Inc. (NASDAQ:CROX – 13.24), and athletic shoes retailer Foot Locker Inc (NYSE:FL – 35.24).
- Following yesterday's 8.1% jump inspired by an upgrade at Bernstein, FB was greeted with another bullish note today. Specifically, Nomura hiked its price target by $5 to $32, which represents 23% upside to FB's closing price of $25.94 on Monday. But considering the stock's recent price action, this may not be too big a task. On a relative-strength basis, the shares have outperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 36 percentage points over the past three months, and have bounced 46% from their post-IPO low of $17.55 in early September.
- Goldman Sachs was busy earlier today, initiating coverage on several names in the footwear space, including a "buy" rating and $17 price target for CROX. Investors are applauding the news, lifting the stock more than 7% at last check. Despite CROX's 12% year-to-date decline, however, the options pits are lined with bullish bettors. During the past 10 days, traders on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open 2.94 calls for every put on the stock. Elsewhere on the Street, short interest advanced 23.5% during the most recent reporting period, suggesting the recent acceleration in call buying could be related to hedging activity by the shorts. But the bearish bandwagon is far from crowded, as it would take fewer than two sessions to buy back all of these pessimistic positions.
- FL is also benefitting from a Goldman Sachs-inspired upswing, as the retailer was started with a "buy" endorsement and a $39 price target. In 2012, the equity has raced 47% higher, and is currently trading within a stone's throw of its all-time best of $37.65, tagged on Sept. 21. Should FL prolong its trek higher, option skeptics could reconsider their positions. The security's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.98 on the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX ranks in the 87th 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.