Stocks quoted in this article:
The major indexes continue to hover near breakeven this afternoon, as investors await the release of the minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) December meeting. Despite this minimal movement, the number of stocks trekking to new highs vastly outstrips those touching new lows. The NYSE shows 262 securities at fresh 52-week peaks, versus four at notable bottoms. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq has 97 equities at new annual highs, compared to only eight lows. Charting new-low territory is Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG - 42.49) and Kohl's Corporation (NYSE:KSS - 42.38), the latter of which slashed its fourth-quarter earnings guidance based on lackluster December sales. Among the stocks making notable runs higher today are MasterCard Inc (NYSE:MA - 512.14), Expedia Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE - 63.65), and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS - 130.57).
- After receiving a price-target hike to $575 from $505 at Barclays today, MA rose to a new record high of $515.46, adding to the stock's 52-week advance of nearly 39%. Nevertheless, skeptics seem to be unfazed by the equity's positive price action. Data pulled from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.07 for MA, confirming puts bought to open have outnumbered calls during the last two weeks. This ratio ranks higher than 72% of comparable readings taken within the past year, meaning traders have been scooping up puts over calls at an accelerated clip.
- EXPE also sailed to a new all-time peak of $64.51 today, thanks to a price-target hike to $65 from $60 at Barclays in pre-market activity. The security has gained a whopping 115% during the past year, yet there are still a number of bearish holdouts among the brokerage bunch. Only eight analysts have deemed the travel website worthy of a "buy" or better endorsement, compared to nine "hold" recommendations. What's more, the stock's average 12-month price target of $65.45 is just a stone's throw away from today's new milestone. This leaves plenty of room for future upgrades and/or price-target hikes, which could push the shares even higher.
- Last but not least, GS tagged a new annual high of $131.78 earlier in the session, after being upgraded to "market perform" from "market underperform" at JMP Securities this morning, although the stock is now down about 1%. Meanwhile, although the shares have climbed nearly 37% on a year-over-year basis, GS is still attracting a number of short-term bears. The security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) sits at 1.54, with puts easily outstripping calls among the front three-months' series of options. This ratio is just 2 percentage points shy of a yearly peak, indicating traders have rarely been more put-heavy toward the equity during the past year.