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Analyst Downgrades: Herbalife, Electronic Arts, and 3M

Analysts downwardly revised their ratings on HLF, EA, and MMM

by 1/11/2013 9:19 AM
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Analysts are weighing in today on health products guru Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF - 39.24), video game developer Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA - 14.00), and diversified products supplier 3M Co (NYSE:MMM - 96.89). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes.

  • Despite yesterday's news that hedge-fund manager Dan Loeb purchased a stake in HLF, the stock received a price-target reduction to $60 from $89 at Barclays this morning. The stock has climbed more than 19% year-to-date, yet short interest has soared by over 54% during the last two reporting periods. In fact, these shorted shares now represent nearly 25% of HLF's available float -- or roughly 14 days' worth of pent-up buying demand, at the security's average daily trading volume.

  • EA -- which has surrendered more than 28% during the past year -- was downgraded to "neutral" from "overweight" at Piper Jaffray today. Nevertheless, call buyers seem unfazed by the security's technical weakness. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 8.95 for EA, confirming traders have bought to open nearly nine calls for every put over the last two weeks. This ratio ranks higher than 77% of similar readings taken within the past 52 weeks, meaning speculators have been buying calls over puts at an accelerated clip.

  • Despite a year-over-year gain of nearly 15%, MMM was cut to "underweight" from "neutral" at J.P. Morgan Securities ahead of the opening bell. Meanwhile, short-term options players seem to be bearishly biased toward the stock. Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for MMM checks in at 1.38, with puts outstripping calls among options scheduled to expire within the next three months. This ratio is just 3 percentage points shy of a yearly peak, meaning near-term traders have rarely been more put-heavy toward the equity during the last 12 months.

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