The Bank Stock to Buy Ahead of Earnings

MS stock tends to rally after pulling back to its 40-day trendline

by Andrea Kramer |

Published on Jul 14, 2017 at 12:29 PM

Bank stocks are in focus today, with a handful of big-cap financial names reporting earnings. A number of other banks are on the earnings calendar next week, too, and if history is any indicator, one stock could be flashing "buy" ahead of earnings: Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS). Below, we'll take a look at the technical signal going off for MS stock before the company's earnings release on Wednesday, July 19.

Morgan Stanley stock recently pulled back to within one standard deviation of its 40-day moving average, after a lengthy spell above this trendline. According to data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, this could be a sign to "buy the dip," if past is prologue. After MS stock's last eight pullbacks to the 40-day, the shares went on to average a one-month return of nearly 5%, and were higher 75% of the time.

At last check, the shares of Morgan Stanley are down 1.3% at $44.92, suffering from sector headwinds. Another 5% gain would put MS stock around $47.16 -- just pennies from March's eight-year high of $47.33. From a longer-term perspective, MS shares have more than doubled from their early 2016 lows, and after the aforementioned peak subsequently took a respite to trade just north of $40, but has battled back in the past couple of months to stand within a chip-shot of new highs.

morgan stanley stock chart


After its last earnings report, Morgan Stanley stock advanced 2% in the following session. This time around, options traders are pricing in a 3.2% move in either direction for the shares -- almost twice the stock's average one-day post-earnings move of 1.8% over the past eight quarters. However, MS stock sports a Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) of 90, indicating the equity has exceeded options traders' volatility expectations during the past 12 months.

Despite MS stock's long-term uptrend, short interest grew by more than 17% during the past month. Likewise, half of the analysts following Morgan Stanley shares maintain tepid "hold" or worse ratings. Should the company top earnings predictions next week, an exodus of short sellers or a round of upgrades could help propel the stock to new highs.
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