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Highs & Lows: Apple, Expedia, GE, and Lennar

AAPL, EXPE, GE, and LEN were among the equities charting notable moves today

by 9/21/2012 2:01 PM
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Major market indexes are moderately higher in afternoon trading, bouncing on overseas news that Spain could be granted a bailout very soon. As equities battle for weekly gains, the number of stocks at new highs handily tops those at new lows. Currently, there are a whopping 247 annual peaks and only four lows on the NYSE, while the Nasdaq counts 152 fresh highs and 15 lows. Among the stocks making notable runs today are Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL - 704.05), Expedia Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE - 59.75), General Electric Company (NYSE:GE - 22.60), and Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN - 37.83).

  • AAPL's newest must-have gadget, the iPhone 5, hit Apple retail outlets this morning, and the public's response was just as lively as it's ever been. Even Wall Street applauded the tech guru's latest venture, bumping the shares to a new all-time best of $705.07, which amplified its 72.5% 2012 climb. And upbeat sentiment continues to be in ample supply for the shares, as all but one of 40 analysts covering AAPL consider it worthy of a "buy" or better endorsement.

  • Moving on, EXPE got an analyst-induced boost this morning, tagging its best price ever at the $60.29 mark. Specifically, Deutsche Bank upgraded the stock to "buy" from "hold," while Cantor Fitzgerald initiated coverage of the online travel business with a "buy" rating and price target of $64. The stock is sitting pretty on the charts, up a considerable 105% so far this year. Should this impressive price action persist, the bearish brokerage holdouts could have a change of heart. There are five "buy" or better ratings, compared to 11 middling "holds" and one "strong sell." Moreover, the average 12-month price target for EXPE sits at $54.06, which is a $6.23 discount to today's fresh high.

  • Dow component GE rallied to $22.69 today -- its loftiest price since October 2008. On the charts, the blue chip has added more than 25% since January, but the equity's technical prowess appears to be lost on near-term option traders. GE's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.75 ranks in the 95th percentile of its annual range, suggesting short-term speculators have rarely been more put-heavy toward the stock.

  • Confidence in the U.S. housing market continues to build, thanks to recent data and today's upbeat third-quarter report from KB Home (NYSE:KBH). With these developments, many names in the sector have enjoyed a halo lift, including LEN's run to a five-year acme of $37.88. In light of an impressive 91.4% year-to-date rise, the options crowd could continue to increase its exposure on LEN. The equity's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 1.80 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) ranks just eight percentage points from an annual high. But there could be a less-than-bullish reason for this call-heavy activity. Short interest accounts for a sizeable 20.5% of the equity's available float. Oftentimes, short traders will buy calls as hedges for their bearish bets -- and this could be what's happening here.

  • Here are some additional articles of interest:

    Short-Term Zillow Speculators Eye Technical Support
    Option Idea of the Week: Brinker International


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