Stocks quoted in this article:
Weekly gains for U.S. indices appear to be in danger, as stocks continue to wade in the red this afternoon. Brushing aside this trend, however, the number of equities at new highs is eclipsing those at new lows. On the NYSE there are currently 41 peaks and 16 bottoms, while the Nasdaq has tallied 23 tops and 16 lows. Among the stocks charting notable moves are H.J. Heinz Company (NYSE:HNZ - 59.13), Finish Line Inc (NASDAQ:FINL - 17.71), and The Hershey Company (NYSE:HSY - 74.17).
- Although ketchup king HNZ has only tacked on 9.4% in 2012, its shares have racked up a string of record highs recently. In fact, the stock rallied to an all-time best of $59.23 just moments ago. And if the security extends this uptrend, the skeptical brokerage crowd could think twice about their current positions. Only six out the 15 analysts covering HNZ consider it worthy of a "buy" or better endorsement. Meanwhile, the consensus 12-month price target of $58.27 is a discount to today's fresh peak.
- The bears have converged on FINL today, taking a roughly 5% bite out of the shares, and knocking its year-over-year deficit to about 11%. Earlier, the stock bottomed out at a new annual low of $17.61. In light of this overall plunge, negative sentiment is ramping up against the athletic apparel retailer. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows that the equity's 10-day put/call volume ratio at 3.40, as bearish bets have been more than three times as popular as their bearish counterparts over the past couple of weeks. Plus, short interest increased by 15% over the past two reporting periods, and now makes up 6% of the security's available float. At FINL's average pace of trading, it would take nearly six sessions for the remaining shorted shares to unwind.
- Popular chocolate name HSY bounced to the $74.50 level today -- its loftiest price ever -- and raising its year-to-date gain to 20% in the process. While the stock could enjoy a contrarian tailwind if any of the doubting analysts have a change of heart – currently, 78% maintain "hold" ratings -- it seems that relatively few traders are looking for a near-term pullback. Short interest fizzled by 14.4% over the past two weeks, and now accounts for a rather slim 1.4% of HSY's float.