Transports Stock Could Pick Up Steam

UNP pullbacks to its 200-day trendline have been bullish in recent years

by Karee Venema

Published on Dec 7, 2018 at 2:15 PM

Transports have taken a hit during this week's broad-market sell-off, with the Dow Jones Transportation Average (DJT) pacing for its biggest weekly loss since August 2011-- down 7.9% so far. This pullback may have created attractive entry points for some names, with DJT component Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE:UNP) in particular flashing a reliable bull signal.

Specifically, in the wake of a 6.1% retreat from its Monday intraday peak at $159.63, UNP stock is now trading within one standard deviation of its 200-day moving average. According to Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, in the five other times since 2015 the equity has come this close to its 200-day trendline after a lengthy stretch above it, the shares were up 5.7%, on average, one month later. Plus, three-quarters of those returns were positive.

More broadly speaking, Union Pacific stock has gained 11.3% so far in 2018. However, a retreat from the equity's Sept. 21 record high of $165.63 had the shares breaching a long-term floor at their 120-day moving average, though the 200-day quickly swooped in as support. At last check, UNP is down 1.6% at $149.21.

unp stock daily price chart dec 7

Options traders have been targeting more losses for the railroad stock. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), UNP's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 3.69 ranks in the 100th annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at a faster-than-usual pace.

This skepticism is seen outside of the options pits, too, where nine of 16 analysts maintain a "hold" or "strong sell" rating on UNP. Should UNP stage another sharp bounce off its 200-day moving average, a capitulation from some of the weaker bearish hands and/or a round of upgrades could create short-term tailwinds for the shares.

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