Published on Jun 29, 2015 at 1:58 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 12:24 PM
  • Stocks On the Move
A number of Greek stocks listed on U.S. exchanges are getting punished today on escalating default fears. For instance, with Greece's banks shuttered for the week and capital controls in place, the National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG) is having a nightmare session, down 23.4% at $0.98, and fresh off a record low of $0.88. But NBG's far from the only one -- a number of Greece-based shipping stocks are also getting rocked, including DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ:DRYS), FreeSeas Inc (NASDAQ:FREE), and Safe Bulkers, Inc. (NYSE:SB). Let's take a look at this trio of struggling Greek stocks.

DRYS plunged to an all-time low of $0.63 earlier, and was last seen a shade higher at $0.64. All told, the stock has lost nearly 40% of its value in 2015. Analysts have taken a decisively bearish path toward the underperformer, as well, with 75% labeling it a "hold" or worse. On the flip side, short sellers have been hitting the exits in droves, with short interest on DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ:DRYS) dropping 19.5% over the last two reporting periods.

Shorts have also been fleeing from FREE, with short interest cratering by 77% during the most recent reporting period. These bears missed a golden opportunity. The shares are down 12.7% today at at $2.61. Amazingly, one year ago, FreeSeas Inc (NASDAQ:FREE) was was trading at $255.

On the flip side, short sellers have been upping the ante on SB. During the last two reporting periods, short interest rose 13.7%, and now makes up one-fifth of the equity's float -- or more than 11 sessions' worth of trading, at the stock's typical volume. These speculators are in luck -- the stock has stumbled 5.3% this afternoon to $3.20. At the same time, however, analysts may be re-examining their positions on Safe Bulkers, Inc. (NYSE:SB), as two-thirds have doled out "buy" or better endorsements.

Finally, it's worth noting that not every Greek shipping stock is getting hammered. Athens-based TOP SHIPS Inc (NASDAQ:TOPS) is actually up close to 1% at $1.04. Longer term, the shares have been consolidating in the $1-$1.20 range for most of 2015.
Published on Jun 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 12:21 PM
  • Stocks On the Move
China's Shanghai Composite had its biggest one-day percentage drop in five months today -- sending the index near the brink of a bear market, and mainland-based U.S.-listed stocks into the red. Three notable names feeling the heat of China's steep sell-off are e-commerce concerns Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) and E Commerce China Dangdang Inc (ADR) (NYSE:DANG), as well as gaming guru Sohu.com Inc (NASDAQ:SOHU)

BABA is off 2.1% today to trade at $83.50. In addition to the broader bearish bias for China-based stocks, news that rival JD.com Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:JD) is teaming up with ZestFinance to launch a credit-scoring service -- possibly creating competition for one of BABA's newest ventures -- may also be weighing on the shares. Regardless, today's negative price action is nothing new for the stock. Year-to-date, in fact, BABA has surrendered 20%.

Amid this decline -- and while BABA has been busy with a number of new undertakings -- optimism among options traders has been on the rise. In fact, since the start of June, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio has risen to 4.36 from 3.40. Should the shares continue to struggle, a capitulation from some option bulls could translate into headwinds for BABA.

DANG has dropped 9% to $9.26 -- and is testing a foothold atop its 80-day moving average. After hitting its most recent low of $8.06 on June 2, the stock tried to stage a rebound, but was quickly contained by its 320-day moving average. Longer term, DANG is down 28% year-over-year.

On the sentiment front, skepticism is steep toward E Commerce China Dangdang Inc. Of the seven analysts covering the shares, six maintain a "hold" or "strong sell" suggestion. Meanwhile, short interest surged 36.4% in the latest reporting period to 3.6 million shorted shares. However, this pales in comparison to the record high 9.77 million shares that were sold short in December 2013. The stock could encounter a fresh wave of selling pressure, should short sellers continue to pile on.

SOHU, meanwhile, is off 5.4% at $60.92. Unlike BABA and DANG, SOHU has put in a strong technical performance in 2015. In fact, ahead of today's drop, the security was boasting a more than 21% year-to-date lead, and hit an annual high of $71.78 just two weeks ago.

Option traders, meanwhile, have shown a distinct preference for long calls over puts in recent weeks, per SOHU's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 136.97 -- in the 98th annual percentile. Echoing this call-skewed backdrop is Sohu.com Inc's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.24, which rests lower than 76% of all similar readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, short-term speculators are more call-heavy than usual toward SOHU.

Published on May 1, 2015 at 3:10 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move

Call buyers have increased their presence in Ocwen Financial Corp's (NYSE:OCN) options pits in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), OCN's 10-day call/put volume ratio has jumped to 3.96 from 0.53 over the past two weeks. What's more, the current ratio ranks in the 88th annual percentile, meaning calls have been bought to open over puts at a faster clip just 12% of the time within the past year.

Echoing this call-skewed trend is the equity's front-month gamma-weighted Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.18, which indicates near-the-money call open interest outweighs put open interest by a more than 5-to-1 margin among options in the May-dated series. Drilling down, a number of call buyers have set their sights on the May 8 strike, where nearly 4,000 contracts are currently housed.

Outside of the options arena, sentiment is titled more toward the skeptical side. Short interest, for example, accounts for nearly 42% of the stock's float. As such, it's possible some of the recent call buying -- specifically, at out-of-the-money strikes -- is a result of shorts hedging against any upside. Elsewhere, five out of six covering analysts maintain a "hold" or "strong sell" rating on the stock.

It's no wonder some pessimism persists, given OCN's long-term troubles both on and off the charts. In fact, heading into today's session, the stock was staring at a 76% year-over-year deficit.

However, a better-than-expected first-quarter forecast has the shares up 20.1% this afternoon to trade at $10.20 -- and on track to close north of their 20-week moving average for the first time since last July. Also helping to buoy Ocwen Financial Corp (NYSE:OCN) is an upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" -- and a $2 price-target hike to $10 -- at Sterne Agee, which said, "It is clear that management has the liquidity in place to finance its ongoing operations, and is addressing both operational and profitability issues."

Published on May 12, 2015 at 10:58 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move
Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) is down 2.1% at $8.65, after unveiling earnings -- less than what the options market had anticipated. The news is likely music to the ears of put buyers, who were upping the ante ahead of last night's big announcement.

At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), CLNE's 10-day put/call volume ratio has jumped to 3.50 from 0.16 over the past two weeks. What's more, the current ratio ranks in the 95th percentile of its annual range.

Echoing this is the equity's front-month gamma-weighted Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 2.14. Simply stated, near-the-money put open interest outstrips call open interest by a more than 2-to-1 ratio among front-month options, which expire at this Friday's close.

As of last night's close, peak put open interest in the May series was found at the May 9 strike, and thanks to today's post-earnings plunge, these puts are now in the money. In fact, the May 9 put is the most active CLNE option today, and it appears a number of speculators are selling to close their positions ahead of expiration.

Technically speaking, CLNE has been a strong performer on the charts in 2015, tacking on 70%. Today's slide comes courtesy of a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss, with the company citing project delays and the recent drop in commodity prices. Citigroup is keeping the faith, though, and upped its price target for Clean Energy Fuels Corp (NASDAQ:CLNE) to $8.85 from $5.05, expressing optimism over the future of natural gas vehicles.
Published on May 12, 2015 at 2:15 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move
Put players have been active in Rocket Fuel Inc's (NASDAQ:FUEL) options pits in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.18 rests in the 64th annual percentile.

Mirroring this is FUEL's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.80, which rests just 6 percentage points from a 52-week peak. In other words, near-term traders have rarely been as put-heavy toward the security as they are now.

This skepticism is seen outside of the options pits, as well, where short interest accounts for nearly 18% of the equity's available float. Additionally, six out of seven analysts maintain a lukewarm "hold" recommendation on the shares, while FUEL's average 12-month price target of $10.56 represents a tepid 14% premium to current trading levels. Today, in fact, Citigroup lowered its price target on FUEL to $9.50 from $12.

Technically speaking, the stock has made some big moves to the upside recently. Last Friday, for example, FUEL popped 9% in the wake of an unsolicited $350 million buyout offer from Gravity4 -- a bid BMO called "low-ball." In today's session, the stock is up 8.4% at $9.28, after unveiling a new partnership with Japan-based Cyber Communications Inc.

Longer term, though, Rocket Fuel Inc (NASDAQ:FUEL) remains a technical dud. Year-to-date, specifically, the stock has surrendered 42% -- and has not traded in double-digits since late March.
Published on May 15, 2015 at 11:17 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move
  • By the Numbers
Put buying has been picking up speed in 3D Systems Corporation's (NYSE:DDD) options pits in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 50-day put/call volume ratio has jumped to 0.78 from 0.62 over the past two weeks. What's more, the current ratio ranks just 2 percentage points from an annual peak.

In the soon-to-be front-month series, peak put open interest can be found at the deep in-the-money June 40 strike, where 12,736 contracts are currently in residence. It appears the majority of these options have been bought to open -- including 5,000 new positions that were purchased yesterday at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX -- as traders bet on the stock to extend its retreat below $40 over the next five weeks.

The skepticism toward DDD is seen elsewhere on the Street. For starters, short interest edged higher in the latest reporting period, and now accounts for 35.3% of the equity's available float -- representing 10.1 times DDD's average daily trading volume.

Elsewhere, roughly 78% of analysts covering the shares maintain a "hold" or worse recommendation. Plus, the average 12-month price target of $26.16 stands at a 23.7% premium to current trading levels.

On the charts, 3D Systems Corporation (NYSE:DDD) has struggled, shedding nearly 36% year-to-date. Today, the shares are off 4% at $21.13 -- and earlier hit a two-year low of $21.05 -- after the company announced it David Styka will replace Ted Hull as chief financial officer, effective at today's close of business.
Published on May 26, 2015 at 10:49 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move
Goldman Sachs added Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG) to its "conviction buy" list this morning, and raised its price target to $87 from $85, in never-before-seen territory. The stock is failing to capitalize on the bullish brokerage note -- down 0.1% at $73.46, and paring its year-to-date gain to 3.9% -- most likely to the disappointment of recent option traders.

In fact, at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open more than eight calls for each put over the past 50 sessions. What's more, the resultant call/put volume ratio of 8.03 sits just 12 percentage points from a 52-week peak.

Echoing this call-skewed trend is DG's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.22. Not only does this show that call open interest more than quadruples put open interest among options expiring in three months or less, but it ranks lower than 76% of similar readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, speculative traders are more call-focused than usual toward DG.

It's more of a mixed bag outside of the options pits, where nine analysts maintain a "strong buy" rating, versus nine "holds" or worse. Additionally, the average 12-month price target of $81.45 stands at an 11% premium to current trading levels, but also represents a record high.

Meanwhile, short interest jumped more than 24% in the latest reporting period, but still only accounts for 2.1% of the stock's available float. Looking ahead, Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG) is slated to host its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow, and unveil first-quarter earnings one week from today.
Published on May 27, 2015 at 1:03 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move

Biotechs are having a big day, and sector components Five Prime Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:FPRX), OXiGENE Inc (NASDAQ:OXGN), and XBiotech Inc (NASDAQ:XBIT) are no exception. All three stocks are soaring in the wake of well-received fundamental developments -- moves that for at least one of the stocks could have short sellers shaking in their boots.

Specifically, FPRX is up 11.6% at $21.92 -- and on track to close north of its 40-day moving average for the first time since April 24 -- on reports of a new partnership with fellow drugmaker bluebird bio Inc (NASDAQ:BLUE). While the stock still remains 18.8% lower on the year, a continued rise could prompt some of the weaker bearish hands to hit the exits. Currently, 8.1% of the stock's float is sold short, and would take more than seven sessions to cover, at Five Prime Therapeutics Inc's average daily pace of trading.

OXGN, meanwhile, has tacked on 6.5% to trade at $1.47, after the company said it was given a patent for its experimental cancer drug, OXi4503. Today's pop is much needed, considering the shares have surrendered 47% of their value over the past 52 weeks, and hit a record low of $1.31 on May 8. Analysts, however, have kept the faith, with each of those covering OXiGENE Inc maintaining a "strong buy" rating. Plus, the average 12-month price target of $6.25 sits in territory not charted since October 2012.

XBIT was up 13.3% at its intraday peak -- and was last seen 1.7% higher at $20.56 -- after the company said it successfully cloned an anti-Ebola product. Since opening for trading at $23 in mid-April, shares of XBiotech Inc have shed 10.6%, and along the way, hit an April 21 all-time peak of $32.50 and a May 1 record low of $17.06. Short sellers haven't shown much interest yet, as less than 1% of the stock's float is sold short.

Published on Jun 2, 2015 at 10:48 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move

With the company slated to announce first-quarter results after today's close, Ambarella Inc (NASDAQ:AMBA) was last seen 2.7% lower at $91.99. Looking back, though, the shares have seen monstrous gains, almost tripling in value over the past 12 months, and touching a record high of $95.67 just yesterday. Even so, traders haven't exactly been rushing to grab the stock's calls.

AMBA's Schaffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) stands at 1.12, meaning put open interest outnumbers call open interest among options expiring in three months or less. Moreover, this reading is higher than 69% of similar marks from the past year, pointing to a stronger-than-usual preference for short-term puts over calls.

For now, the stock's near-term at-the-money straddle is pricing in a 7.6% swing in either direction. This would be a larger after-earnings move than AMBA is used to, as it's averaged a 4.3% shift in the session following its last eight trips to the earnings confessional -- six of which have been to the upside.

Additionally, for those looking to purchase the equity's options ahead of tonight's event, front-month contracts are fairly priced, from a volatility standpoint. This, based on AMBA's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 58%, which lands in the 51st percentile of its annual range. 

A look at the brokerage bunch shows mixed feelings. Half of those covering Ambarella Inc (NASDAQ:AMBA) say it's a "strong buy," while the other half says it's a "hold" or worse. It's also worth noting that the equity's 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) is docked at 78, well into overbought territory. As such, some of the recent put activity -- specifically, those purchasing out-of-the-money strikes -- could be a result of shareholders protecting paper profits against an unexpected pullback.

Published on Jun 3, 2015 at 10:48 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move
Put players have been active in Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:HALO) options pits in recent months, per data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). In fact, the equity's 50-day put/call volume ratio across this trio of exchanges sits at 0.57 -- in the 99th percentile of its annual range.

Echoing this trend is HALO's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.48, which rests higher than 92% of all similar readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, short-term speculators have been more put-heavy toward the security just 8% of the time within the past year.

This skepticism is seen outside of HALO's options arena, as well. Short interest, for example, jumped 7.1% in the latest reporting period, and now accounts for a lofty 16.6% of the equity's available float. Additionally, it would take shorts more than three weeks to cover these shorted shares, at the security's average daily pace of trading.

What's surprising is that there is this amount of pessimism levied toward a stock that's almost doubled in value on a year-to-date basis. Today alone, the shares have jumped 5.2% to trade at $18.93 -- and are fresh off an all-time peak of $19.05 -- on news the company has inked another collaboration deal, this time with AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV). Should Halozyme Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:HALO) extend its trek into record-high territory, a capitulation from option bears and/or short sellers could help fuel the equity's fire.
Published on Jun 12, 2015 at 2:00 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move

This morning, for-profit educator ITT Educational Services, Inc. (NYSE:ESI) made waves by topping expectations with its first-quarter earnings announcement. During the period, ESI earned 44 cents per share -- handily topping the Street's expectations of 37 cents per share. As if the earnings news wasn't good enough, revenue for the quarter checked in at $230 million compared to estimates calling for $216.6 million. On a negative note, the quarterly revenue is lower than the first quarter last year.

Technically, the shares gapped higher this morning, riding the wave of good news. However, the stock has since pared its gains, backpedaling from a test of resistance at its 80-day moving average.

While the news itself wasn't enough to propel the stock through this resistance, additional downside could be limited, since there's plenty of negative sentiment already priced in. ESI's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.51 ranks higher than 92% of the past year's worth of readings. Plus, short interest accounts for 63.9% of the stock's float, and two of the three analysts covering ESI rank it a "hold" or worse.

That said, the stock's year-to-date loss of 47.9% merits the bearish opinions, so the bears on the Street may be a bit too entrenched for one earnings beat to shake them from their perch. While upgrades or short-covering could provide some momentum for the stock in the future, ITT Educational Services, Inc. will likely need to reverse its unimpressive price action before these skeptics are motivated to reevaluate their stance. At last check, ESI was up 20.7% at $5.01.

Published on Jun 17, 2015 at 11:25 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM
  • Stocks On the Move
With domestic equities off to a strong start today, several names are hitting new highs, including coffee giant Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), as well as biotech concerns Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:NBIX) and Prothena Corporation PLC (NASDAQ:PRTA). Here's a look at what has SBUX, NBIX, and PRTA moving higher. 

  • SBUX touched an all-time peak of $53.47 earlier, and was last seen 0.3% higher at $53.13, after the company announced it will be closing all of its La Boulange bakery stores. The shares have been relentless this year, tacking on 29.5%, thanks in part to a mass exodus of bearish traders. Specifically, since the start of the year, short interest on Starbucks Corporation has been cut nearly in half. Elsewhere, option traders foresee more upside, as 3.37 calls have been bought to open for every put during the past two weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). 

  • NBIX is benefiting from a price-target hike at Baird, which set its mark at $54 -- territory the stock hasn't explored in nine years. The brokerage firm also underscored its "outperform" opinion. The shares have already hit their highest point in that time span earlier, touching $47, but were last seen at $45.97, gaining 1.5% on the day. It's nothing new to see analysts backing Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc., as all seven brokerage firms tracking the security say it's a "strong buy." Others on the Street don't share this enthusiasm. The 7.4% of NBIX's float that's sold short represents over seven sessions' worth of trading, at the security's normal daily volume. 

  • Month-to-date, PRTA has added nearly 32%, including today's 11% pop to trade at $51.87. Moreover, the stock earlier hit an all-time high of $52.98, and is sitting near the top of the Nasdaq winner list, after the company reported strong clinical results for its Parkinson's disease drug, PRX002.  This is probably good news for Prothena Corporation PLC option traders, as close to 800 calls have been bought to open on the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX during the past two weeks, compared to just 13 puts. 

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