U.S. stocks are down, as traders take profits after a huge week. Among specific equities in focus today are machinery maker Deere & Company (NYSE:DE), food and beverage concern Kraft Heinz Co (NASDAQ:KHC), and Dow stock UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE:UNH). Here's a quick look at what's driving DE, KHC, and UNH shares.
DE is up 1.9% at $111.19 -- and earlier came within pennies of a new record high -- after the machinery maker's earnings beat expectations, and it raised its full-year 2017 outlook, citing stabilizing key farm markets, increased sales expectations, and cost-cutting measures. DE is up 44% since September, boosted by a November post-earnings bull gap which saw the shares spike 11% in a single session. Meanwhile, short sellers – and Warren Buffett -- may not be celebrating Deere & Company's earnings victory, with shorted shares accounting for 6.8% of DE's float, which would take nearly two weeks of trading to cover, at DE's average daily volume. If these short sellers start to exit, it could fuel DE to even higher highs.
KHC is up 8% at $94.30 -- a new all-time high -- after confirming it had made a takeover proposal to Unilever plc (ADR) (NYSE:UL). While the bid was rejected, KHC said it we looks "forward to working to reach agreement on the terms of a transaction." KHC has tacked on more than 28% year-over-year, and Kraft Heinz Co option players have been especially bullish, with KHC's 10-day call/put volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) showing 2.21 calls bought to open for every put over the last two weeks, a reading that sits higher than 81% of all others from the last 12 months.
UNH is down 3.2% at $158.37, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) joined a lawsuit accusing the healthcare company of overcharging Medicare by hundreds of millions of dollars. UNH, which has been struggling to topple the $164-$165 mark since December, is still up more than 34% year-over-year, and just touched an all-time peak of $164.97 yesterday. Meanwhile, near-term option players have been more put-skewed than usual, with UNH's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.22 sitting in the top 72% of its annual range.
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