Stocks quoted in this article:
U.S. stocks are mixed and relatively sluggish this Wednesday morning, as Wall Street digests several nuggets of economic data. Here's a quick update on today's latest brokerage notes, including adjustments for tech behemoth Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC - 19.91), global semiconductor outfit Altera Corporation (NASDAQ:ALTR – 31.55), and banking business PNC Financial Services (NYSE:PNC - 55.86).
- Off by roughly 18% in 2012, and trailing the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 15.6 percentage points during the past three months, INTC was slapped with a downgrade today. Specifically, the stock was cut to "underperform" from "market perform" at Raymond James. Though the brokerage bunch is mostly skeptical of the Dow component -- 25 out of 37 analysts deem it a "hold" or worse rating -- options players are upbeat. The equity's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.66 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) ranks in the 87th percentile of its annual range, signaling that traders on these exchanges have made bullish bets over bearish at a faster pace than usual during the past two weeks But short sellers could be responsible for some of the recent call buying, employing these calls to hedge their pessimistic positions. Short interest turned higher by 9% over the past month, and currently makes up a healthy 4% of the security's available float.
- INTC sector peer, ALTR slashed its fourth-quarter revenue guidance last night, which prompted a pair of price-target cuts from Barclays (to $35 from $37) and Nomura (to $27 from $29). Because of this downbeat news, investors have knocked the shares down more than 2% in early trading, bringing ALTR's year-to-date deficit to roughly 15%. There could be further technical trouble ahead, especially if bullish analyst holdouts have a change of heart. The stock's current perch represents a 14% premium to the consensus 12-month price target of $35.91. Meanwhile, ALTR counts 11 "strong buys" and one "buy" endorsement, versus eight lukewarm "holds" and zero "sell" suggestions.
- Finally, PNC was greeted with a upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" this morning at Compass Point. This note has lifted the shares more than 1% at last look, which is helping to add to PNC's 1.5% 52-week gain. In light of today's bounce, sentiment among short-term options players could be in for a turnaround. The Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.44 signifies that puts outnumber calls among options expiring within three months. This ratio registers in the 86th percentile of its annual range, suggesting that near-term options players have been more put-heavy toward PNC just 14% of the time during the last year.