NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) Skeptics Move to the Sidelines Ahead of Earnings

Outperforming NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) has stalled since topping out at a record high in late December

Jan 30, 2017 at 2:05 PM
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NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) put in a standout technical performance in 2016, surging nearly 224% over the course of the calendar year. Since tagging a record high of $119.93 on Dec. 28, the tech stock has cooled its heels -- last seen trading at $109.95, after spending the majority of 2017 so far bouncing between $100, a 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of its November-to-December rally, and the $110-$112 mark, home to a lofty amount of near-term call open interest. Nevertheless, traders both in and out of the options pits appear to be positioning for NVDA stock's next leg higher.

NVDA daily with fibonacci levels

According to Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, NVDA has seen some of the highest total options volume in the last two weeks, with a notable tilt toward calls. Specifically, 335,034 calls have changed hands on NVDA in the past 10 trading sessions, compared to 248,401 puts. This theme is echoed in data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), where traders have bought to open 1.70 calls for each put over the past two weeks -- a ratio that ranks in the slightly elevated 63rd annual percentile.

What's more, NVDA's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.98 rests below 74% of all comparable readings taken in the past year, meaning short-term traders are more call-skewed than usual toward the stock. Drilling down, NVDA's two top open interest positions are the February and March 110 calls, where a collective 22,095 contracts currently reside -- a notable portion of which have been bought to open, per data from the major options exchanges.

Outside of the options arena, NVDA short sellers have been exiting their bearish positions in droves. After topping out at a nine-month high of 71.4 million shares in mid-December, short interest on NVDA has plunged 49% to 36.7 million shares. This suggests that some of the recent rally to record highs was likely due in part to a short-squeeze situation.

Despite staring down potential options-related resistance at the overhead 110 strike and a lack of available sideline cash from shorts, there's still one catalyst that could fuel NVDA's next leg higher. Ten of 25 brokerages maintain a "hold" or worse recommendation and the average 12-month price target of $99.67 represents a discount to NVDA's current price, leaving the door wide open for bullish brokerage notes -- perhaps following another positive earnings reaction after NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) reports after the close next Thursday, Feb. 9. In fact, the stock has moved to the upside in the session subsequent to reporting after each of the past six quarters, averaging a gain of 14.3%.

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