Buzz Stocks: Apple, Chico's, and Lowe's Companies

Today's stocks to watch include Apple Inc. (AAPL), Chico's FAS, Inc. (CHS), and Lowe's Companies, Inc. (LOW)

Feb 25, 2015 at 9:30 AM
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After hitting record highs yesterday, U.S. stocks are mostly flat ahead of the bell. Among the equities in focus are tech titan Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), along with retailers Chico's FAS, Inc. (NYSE:CHS) and Lowe's Companies, Inc. (NYSE:LOW).

  • AAPL is set to trade lower out of the gate, after a Texas jury determined the company's music application, iTunes, infringed Smartflash's patents. Nevertheless, the shares have been red hot lately, adding close to 20% year-to-date to finish yesterday at $132.17, after touching a record high of $133.60. In the option pits, Apple Inc.'s short-term speculators have been call-skewed. According to the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.64, which ranks lower than roughly three-fourths of readings from the past year, open interest among options expiring in three months or less has rarely been more call-dominated.

  • CHS is hurting ahead of the opening bell, off 6.1%, following news that private equity firm Sycamore Partners is no longer interested in buying the company. Chico's FAS, Inc. has been strong in February, settling at $18.11 yesterday for a month-to-date gain of 8.6%. Option traders aren't sold, though. CHS' 50-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 2.57 is only 10 percentage points from an annual high. In other words, speculators have bought to open puts over calls at a faster-than-normal rate in the past ten weeks.

  • Similar to sector peer Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD) yesterday, LOW is ready to benefit from better-than-expected fourth-quarter numbers. The shares are 2.5% higher in electronic trading, poised to add to their almost 13% gain since touching a February low of $66.17 on Feb. 2. Moreover, Lowe's Companies, Inc. hit an all-time high of $75.82 yesterday, before closing at $74.65. The equity could be ripe for some positive analyst attention, as well. Nine out of 19 covering brokerage firms give "hold" recommendations for the security, despite its technical strength. Plus, LOW's average 12-month price target of $71.87 stands at a discount to current trading levels. Should the shares' success on the charts continue, a round of bullish analyst attention could provide an added boost. In fact, earlier this morning, Morgan Stanley boosted its price target to $84, and reiterated an "overweight" assessment.

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