Buzz Stocks: ConAgra Foods, GE, and Willis Group

Today's stocks to watch in the news include ConAgra Foods Inc (NYSE:CAG), General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), and Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE:WSH)

Jun 30, 2015 at 9:18 AM
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Futures are signaling a big bounce this morning, as Wall Street takes a breather from the Greece debt drama. Meanwhile, among specific equities in focus are packaged food specialist ConAgra Foods Inc (NYSE:CAG), blue chip General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), and insurance broker Willis Group Holdings PLC (NYSE:WSH).

  • CAG this morning reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that arrived in line with estimates, and announced it is considering unloading its private-label business. Specifically, CEO Sean Connolly said "it has become clear that the time and energy the company is devoting to the private brands turnaround represent a suboptimal use of our resources." Technically speaking, CAG has added nearly 20% in 2015 -- thanks in part to a recent stakeholder-induced bull gap -- and settled last night at $41.33. What's more, the stock topped out at its highest perch on record -- $44.15 -- last Wednesday. Option traders, however, have been quick to initiate long puts over calls in recent months. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), ConAgra Foods Inc's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.47 ranks in the 78th annual percentile.

  • GE is up modestly ahead of the bell on news the company will sell its European private equity financing division to Japan's Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp for about $2.2 billion. This follows Monday's reports that General Electric Company will bank roughly $6.9 billion on the sale of its fleet business. On the charts, the stock is up 8.4% from its April 1 low of $24.57, and found a foothold atop its 80-day moving average during yesterday's broad-market bloodbath. Analysts, meanwhile, have been slow to applaud GE's technical tenacity. In fact, five out of 12 still maintain a lukewarm "hold" recommendation, leaving the door open for a round of upgrades to help the stock extend its recent momentum.

  • WSH is up 8.3% in electronic trading -- and poised to come within striking distance of its April 15 record high of $49.96 -- after the firm said it is merging with Towers Watson & Co (NASDAQ:TW) in an all-stock deal worth roughly $18 billion. While short-term option traders have shown a preference for puts over calls -- WSH's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 3.71 sits just 1 percentage point from a 52-week peak -- short sellers have been exiting their bearish positions. Short interest declined 4.2% in the most recent reporting period, and now accounts for just 1.4% of Willis Group Holdings PLC's available float. The stock closed last night at $45.40 -- up 1.3% on the year, and just north of its rising 200-day moving average.
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