Earnings Upside in Store For United Technologies, Citrix Systems, Lam Research

Tech stocks UTX, CTXS, and LRCX could capitalize if option bears and short sellers hit the bricks

Jan 24, 2017 at 12:24 PM
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Several tech stocks will report earnings tomorrow. Among the big names preparing to tell all are blue chip United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX), software firm Citrix Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CTXS), and semiconductor expert Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX). Below, we'll take a closer look at each company's earnings history, as well as the pre-event expectations in the options pits and beyond.

UTX has had a banner year, recently touching a more than 12-month high at $112.83. At last check, the Dow stock was up another 0.5% at $110.92, having advanced nearly 31% year-over-year. If past is precedent, more gains could be on the way. The shares have finished the session subsequent to earnings higher in six of the last eight quarters.

Options traders are certainly banking on history to repeat itself. During the past two weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators have bought to open 3.61 calls for every put -- a ratio ranking in the bullishly skewed 89th annual percentile.

Meanwhile, short sellers have been hitting the bricks ahead of tomorrow morning's earnings report. Short interest on United Technologies plunged 24.4% in the most recent reporting period, leaving less than 1% of the stock's float sold short.

It's a similar story on CTXS, which late last week notched a 16-year peak of $94.08. At last check, the shares are up 1% at $93.39, and a successful turn in the confessional could translate into fresh tailwinds -- and higher highs -- for the tech stock. History is certainly on the equity's side, given its immediate post-earnings gains in seven of the last eight quarters.

Citrix Systems could burn short sellers if tomorrow night's quarterly report is a success. The stock boasts a lofty short-interest ratio (SIR) of 7.70, meaning it would take well over one week for these bears to cover their bets, at the security's typical trading levels. Moreover, 10 of 17 analysts rate CTXS a "hold" or worse, leaving the door wide open for upgrades.

LRCX will also report earnings tomorrow evening, and has a pretty impressive track record of its own in the confessional. Specifically, the stock has posted gains in the session subsequent to quarterly data in six of the past eight quarters. Another big earnings beat could boost the shares -- now at $113.74 -- to record highs, topping yesterday's all-time peak of $114.11.

A continued capitulation among short sellers could add fuel to the fire, as well. Despite dropping nearly 17% in the last two reporting periods, short interest on Lam Research still accounts for about nine days' worth of pent-up buying power, at average trading volumes. That said, a portion of these bears are likely hedged against an unexpected breakout, considering the stock's top-heavy 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 4.92.

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