Odds Favor the Bears for These Gambling Stocks

IGT and SGMS stocks are flashing historical sell signals

Andrea Kramer
Jun 4, 2019 at 1:15 PM
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The shares of International Game Technology (NYSE:IGT) have rebounded off their May 29 annual low of $12.49, and fellow casino concern Scientific Games Corp (NASDAQ:SGMS) is pacing for a fifth straight day in the black. However, both IGT and SGMS stocks are running into potential trendline resistance, and history says it may be time to cash in your proverbial chips.

Analysts Remain Devoted to IGT Stock

In February, IGT stock broke out of a longer-term channel of lower highs and lows. However, the good tidings didn't last very long, as an early March post-earnings bear gap sent the shares crashing back to earth. Since then, the equity has remained relatively range-bound in the $13-$15 area, but is now back within one standard deviation of its 60-day moving average, after a lengthy stretch below this trendline.

Over the past two years, the security has made similar run-ups to this moving average six times, after which IGT was down 7.33%, on average, three weeks later, and in the red two-thirds of the time, per data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. From the stock's current perch at $13.47, a similar downturn would place the shares around $12.48 -- back into new-low territory.

IGT stock chart june 4

Despite losing more than 45% over the past year, International Game Technology stock remains beloved by analysts. In fact, all seven brokerage firms following the security maintain "strong buy" ratings. This leaves IGT very vulnerable to analyst downgrades, which could trigger more shareholders to abandon ship.

Traders looking to speculate on IGT's short-term trajectory should consider options. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 44% is in just the 12th percentile of its annual range, suggesting near-term contracts are pricing in relatively modest volatility expectations. In other words, IGT's short-term options are attractively priced.

SGMS Faces Off Against Familiar Resistance

Meanwhile, Scientific Games stock is up 2% at $20.86, set for a five-day winning streak. From a longer-term perspective, SGMS shares shot higher to start 2019, but ran into a roadblock in the round-number $30 region -- roughly twice their Dec. 21 low of $14.79. The equity subsequently pulled back to its year-to-date breakeven just south of $18, and has bounced from here. However, SGMS' bounce has put it within one standard deviation of its 40-day moving average, following a lengthy stretch beneath this trendline.

Again, run-ups to this moving average have been bearish for the stock. Specifically, there have been four similar signals over the past two years, after which SGMS was lower three weeks later 100% of the time, averaging a loss of nearly 12%, per data from White. Another drop of that magnitude would put the lottery name around $18.36.

SGMS stock chart june 4

It appears options traders have been rolling the dice on a bigger rebound for SGMS. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open nearly 89 calls for every put on the stock. This ratio ranks in the 97th percentile of its annual range, pointing to a much healthier-than-usual appetite for bullish bets over bearish of late. In the June series of options, the overhead 21 and 23 strikes are home to peak call open interest, which could translate into an options-related headwind as we head into expiration on Friday, June 21.

As with IGT, SGMS' near-term option premiums are relatively inexpensive. The stock's SVI of 65% is in just the 18th percentile of its annual range, suggesting short-term traders can pick up options for a steal.


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