Worst July Stocks: American Express Company (AXP)

American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) has historically underperformed in July

Jul 1, 2016 at 1:21 PM
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    Stocks have started July on a solid note, as strong manufacturing data boosts investor sentiment ahead of the long holiday weekend. If history is any guide, this positive price action could continue following the Fourth of July holiday. However, this bullish backdrop doesn't apply to all equities, according to Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, who compiled a list of July's worst performing stocks, going back 10 years. Making the list is credit card concern American Express Company (NYSE:AXP).

    Worst July stocks

    Looking back over the past 10 years, AXP has averaged a July gain of just 1.2% -- compared to an average monthly return of 4.4% for this fellow Dow stock, one of the month's best performers. This positive return is skewed by the equity's big July rallies in 2009 and 2010, the only times AXP has gained ground this month since 2006. In fact, stripping out those two years, the security has averaged a monthly loss of 2.8%.

    AXP July returns by year

    This uninspiring price action just echoes AXP's longer-term trajectory, with the stock down 22% year-over-year. More recently, the security has spent 2016 stuck below resistance in the $66-$67 region, and was last seen trading at $60.81.

    Options traders have been bracing for more downside, too. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), AXP's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.57 rests just 7 percentage points from a 52-week peak, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at a near-annual-high clip.

    Echoing this put-skewed backdrop is AXP's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.18. Not only does this show that put open interest outweighs call open interest among options expiring in three months or less, but it rests in the 87th annual percentile. In other words, short-term speculators are more put-heavy than usual toward AXP.

    Outside of the options arena, most analysts are skeptical of the stock. However, four of the 23 brokerages following AXP still maintain a "strong buy" rating, leaving the door open for downgrades -- which could apply additional pressure to the shares.

    Short interest, meanwhile, accounts for just 2.3% of American Express Company's (NYSE:AXP) available float. The stock could encounter a fresh wave of selling pressure, should short sellers begin to increase their bearish exposure.

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