Earnings Preview: El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc., FXCM Inc, and VeriFone Systems Inc

El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:LOCO), FXCM Inc (NYSE:FXCM), and VeriFone Systems Inc (NYSE:PAY) will report quarterly earnings after tonight's close

by Karee Venema

Published on Mar 10, 2016 at 12:43 PM

Although earnings season has been winding down in recent weeks, there are still a number of notable names on Wall Street's watch list. While traders are digesting big post-earnings reactions for solar power firm Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ) and cloud concern Box Inc (NYSE:BOX), restaurant chain El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. (NASDAQ:LOCO), foreign exchange firm FXCM Inc (NYSE:FXCM), and electronic payment processor VeriFone Systems Inc (NYSE:PAY) will all unveil their quarterly earnings results after tonight's close.

  • Short-term speculators have shown a preference for calls over puts on lightly traded LOCO, per the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.55 -- in the 27th annual percentile. Meanwhile, those purchasing the equity's near-term options are currently paying for elevated volatility expectations, as evidenced by LOCO's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility of 65.9%, which ranks higher than 86% of all comparable readings taken in the last year.

    Looking back over the past eight quarters, LOCO has averaged a single-session post-earnings move of 8.1%. This time around, the options market is pricing in a slightly higher swing of 11.5% for tomorrow's trading. Technically speaking, shares of El Pollo Loco Holdings, Inc. have shed nearly half their value since hitting an annual high of $29.20 in mid-May, with a recent rally attempt -- including today's 3% pop to $15.34 -- running out of steam near the $15.35 mark, home to LOCO's mid-August bear gap intraday peak.

  • Over the past eight quarters, FXCM has moved an average of 6.4% in the session subsequent to reporting. Ahead of tonight's scheduled event, the shares are off 1.7% at $14.74. Longer term, FXCM Inc has had a number of fits and starts this year, resulting in a year-to-deficit of nearly 12%. Short sellers, meanwhile, have been upping the bearish ante. In the last two reporting periods, short interest on FXCM surged 16.5% to 14.8% of the stock's float, or 5.2 times the average daily trading volume.

  • PAY is up 0.6% at $26.52, as the stock battles its 120-day moving average -- a trendline not conquered on a daily closing basis since June 23. Historically, PAY has averaged a single-session post-earnings move of 4.5% over the past eight quarters. For tomorrow's post-earnings price action, though, the options market is pricing in a loftier 9% swing. Bearish traders have been hitting the bricks ahead of VeriFone Systems Inc's results. Specifically, short interest declined 13.9% in the two most recent reporting periods, and now accounts for a low 4.8% of PAY's available float.

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