Buzz Stocks: National Bank of Greece SA, Herbalife

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (NYSEARCA:GREK), National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG), and Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF)

Jun 29, 2015 at 9:28 AM
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U.S. markets are sharply lower in electronic trading, after Greece failed to reach a debt resolution with its creditors over the weekend. Among specific equities in focus are Athens exchange-traded fund (ETF) Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (NYSEARCA:GREK), financial firm National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG), and nutritional supplement specialist Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF).

  • GREK is bracing for a 15.3% plunge out of the gate -- and on pace to surrender support atop the $10 mark -- after banks in Greece were shuttered and capital controls were implemented. Over the weekend, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for a referendum on a proposed bailout package for the country, sending rumors spiking over a possible "Grexit." The ETF has been in a downward spiral for some time, shedding nearly half its value year-over-year to churn near $11.78. In the options pits, long calls have been preferred over puts, per Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF's 20-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 2.68. Premium on the ETF's front-month options are currently pricing in lofty volatility expectations, too. GREK's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 95% ranks in the 80th annual percentile.

  • After closing at $1.28 on Friday, NBG is reeling ahead of the bell, down 25% -- and on its way toward record-low territory. Banks in Greece will remain closed through the week, with ATMs -- which will reopen tomorrow -- allowing a 60 euro limit on cash withdrawals. On the charts, the National Bank of Greece has been in a steady decline over the past 12 months, shedding roughly 65%. Option traders, meanwhile, have been buying to open puts over calls at a rapid-fire rate in recent weeks. At the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, NBG's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.33 sits in the 86th percentile of its annual range. Echoing this is the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.89, which rests higher than 79% of all similar readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, short-term speculators are more put-heavy than usual.

  • Bill Ackman is at it again. This time, the activist investor is demanding HLF CEO Michael Johnson release a 2005 video in which he supposedly called the company a "lottery ticket." At last check, the shares were off 1.2% in electronic trading, after settling last week at $53.75. Longer term, HLF has performed well in 2015, up more than 42% -- and true to form, is set to end June on a high note. Short sellers, however, are unconvinced Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) can sustain this momentum. More than 29% of the stock's float is sold short, representing 18.8 times HLF's average daily trading volume.

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