Beware This Financial Stock Before Earnings

MS stock is approaching a historically bearish trendline

Oct 5, 2018 at 2:42 PM
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A slew of financial firms are set to kick off earnings season next week, and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) is set to report the following week -- on Tuesday, Oct. 16, specifically. Below, we'll take a look at what the options market is pricing in for MS stock after earnings -- and why the shares could be set to extend their slump on the charts.

Morgan Stanley stock has dropped  20% since its March 12 10-year high of $59.38. Pressuring the shares have been their 80-day moving average, and the stock's recent run-up to the 40-day trendline has had bearish implications in the past. Specifically, in the past three years, there were six times MS came within one standard deviation of its 40-day moving average after a lengthy stretch below the trendline. After those instances, the shares were lower one month later 83% of the time, averaging a loss of 2.39%, per data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White.

At last check, MS stock was down 0.2% on the day to trade at $47.19. Another 2.39% drop in the next month -- which encompasses the aforementioned earnings release -- would place the equity around $46.05, a new annual low.

MS stock chart oct 5

As far as an earnings reaction, Trade-Alert indicates options are pricing in a 3.8% one-day swing for MS shares. That's double the average one-day reaction of 1.7% for the stock, looking back eight quarters, regardless of direction.

Despite the equity's slide over the past couple of quarters, options buyers have been upping the bullish ante on MS ahead of earnings. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators have bought to open more than five Morgan Stanley calls for every put in the past two weeks. The security's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 5.30 stands in the 93rd percentile of its annual range, pointing to a much healthier-than-usual appetite for bullish bets over bearish of late. An unwinding of optimism in the options pits could exacerbate selling pressure on MS, should the stock slide after earnings.


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