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The shares of Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW - 27.65) have advanced roughly 9% in August, and are on pace to end atop their 10-week moving average for the first time since early May, when the stock was exploring multi-year highs. Nevertheless, speculators have been picking up LOW puts at a faster-than-usual clip ahead of the company's turn in the earnings confessional on Monday.
Specifically, on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.86 stands higher than 74% of all others of the past year. In other words, option players have bought to open LOW puts over calls at an accelerated pace during the past two weeks.
In the soon-to-be front-month September series, traders have honed in on the 25- and 27-strike puts, which have each seen open interest increase by about 8,000 contracts over the past 10 sessions. Not far behind is the September 26 strike, which has seen put open interest jump by roughly 7,000 contracts in the same time frame. In the short term, this abundance of bearish bets below could translate into options-related support for LOW.
Elsewhere on the Street, the analyst crowd remains relatively lukewarm in its opinion of LOW. Currently, the consensus 12-month price target on the equity stands at $30.82, which represents expected upside of just 12% to LOW's closing price of $27.45 on Thursday.
Fundamentally speaking, Lowe's has bested the Street's bottom-line earnings estimates in each of the past four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters. Should the company once again dazzle investors with its quarterly report, an unwinding of pessimism in the options arena, or a dose of upbeat analyst attention, could add fuel to the stock's recent fire.