20 Stocks That Defied the S&P's Opening Week Struggles

Range Resources Corp. (RRC) and EQT Corporation (EQT) were among the top SPX stocks last week

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jan 11, 2016 at 1:27 PM

Stocks performed very badly last week. The S&P 500 Index (SPX), in particular, had its worst-ever five-day stretch to kick off a year, losing 5.9%. That's not to say every stock did poorly. In fact, a pair of oil names fared quite well -- specifically, Range Resources Corp. (NYSE:RRC) and EQT Corporation (NYSE:EQT).

RRC ended 2016's opening week on a gain of 4.6%, making it the third best performer on the SPX, behind only Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX) and FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:FLIR). From a longer-term perspective, this uptick is unusual. In 2015, RRC shares surrendered over half their value. Today, in fact, the stock is down 3.1% at $24.96 after receiving a weekend price-target cut to $36 from $39 at Susquehanna.

From the looks of it, option traders are holding out for more gains from Range Resources Corp. During the last two weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open over 20 calls for each put. The resultant call/put volume ratio of 20.53 ranks in the top quartile of all readings from the past year.

Another oil stock that had an unusually strong first week of the year was EQT, which advanced 4.5%. As with its sector peer, the equity is giving back some of those gains today, down 3.6% at $52.51. 2015 was brutal for the shares, too, as they sank 31%.

Not surprisingly, option traders have taken a glass-half-empty approach when it comes to EQT Corporation. The stock's 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 2.91 registers just 5 percentage points shy of a 52-week peak. In other words, traders have been buying to open puts over calls at an accelerated clip in recent months.

For a full list of the stocks that had the best opening weeks of 2016, see the chart below. Data comes courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White:


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