Can McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Defy the Bears?

Analysts and options traders are bearish on McDonald's Corporation (MCD) ahead of tomorrow's earnings report

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Apr 21, 2016 at 5:24 PM

McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) closed down 2.2% at $125.79 today, pulling back from a new all-time high of $129.80, tapped Wednesday. The stock has been riding higher atop its 10-day moving average since early March, and could find additional support in the form of its 30-day moving average -- previously a level of resistance for the shares. Heading into tomorrow morning's earnings report, however, options traders and analysts appear skeptical that the equity can take its rally to new heights.

MCD Daily Chart

With its latest push upward, MCD earned a 14-day Relative Strength index (RSI) of 69 -- just on the edge of "overbought" territory, meaning today's breather may have been due for the soaring shares. But despite a series of higher highs in recent months, 14 out of 23 analysts still rate the equity a "hold" or worse.

And in the options pits, traders have been busy betting against MCD in recent weeks. The stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) sits just 1 percentage point from an annual peak, at 3.02. Echoing this bearish sentiment is MCD's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.31 -- higher than 94% of all readings in the past year. That means near-term traders have been unusually put-heavy of late.

And with first-quarter earnings in focus, the options market is pricing in a one-day post-earnings swing of 3.8%, according to near-term at-the-money straddle data. This represents a slightly larger move than the average 2% change seen after earnings over the past eight quarters. But should McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD) pull out another earnings beat, an unwinding of bearish sentiment could send the shares into never-before-seen territory once again.

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