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Is Crocs Destined for More Downside?

Investors favored CROX's August-dated puts

by 7/10/2012 9:07 AM
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The shares of Crocs, Inc. (NASDAQ:CROX - 19.92) gave up more than 7% on Monday, ending south of support in the $15.50 region for just the second time since mid-January. What's more, it looks like the options crowd is gambling on even more downside for the shoe concern, with single-session put volume soaring to four times the norm.

Specifically, CROX saw more than 1,750 puts change hands yesterday, compared to its average daily volume of fewer than 450 puts. Digging deeper, traders established new positions at the near-the-money August 14 and 15 strikes, which saw bout 240 and 340 contracts cross the tape -- mostly at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Plus, open interest at the strikes increased overnight, confirming buy-to-open activity. By purchasing the puts to open, the investors are expecting CROX to continue its retreat over the next several weeks.

However, yesterday's affinity for bearish bets runs counter to the recent trend seen on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), where the security sports a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 6.97. Not only does this ratio indicate that traders have bought to open nearly seven CROX calls for every put during the past couple of weeks, it also stands higher than two-thirds of all other readings of the past year, hinting at a healthier-than-usual appetite for pessimistic positions of late.

Echoing that skepticism, short interest edged 4.4% higher during the past month, and now accounts for 8.3% of the stock's total available float. At CROX's average daily trading volume, it would take roughly one week to buy back these bearish bets.

Nevertheless, not everyone on Wall Street has capitulated to the skeptics' camp. Currently, CROX boasts six "strong buy" endorsements from the analyst community, compared to three "hold" ratings and not a single "sell." In the same vein, the consensus 12-month price target of $25.56 implies expected upside of 72% to CROX's closing price of $14.86 on Monday. Should the shares continue to backpedal on the charts, a flood of downgrades and/or price-target reductions could exacerbate the equity's technical troubles.

Daily Chart of CROX since January 2012


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