Buzz Stocks: Microsoft, Barclays PLC, and Alibaba

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS), and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)

Jul 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM
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U.S. markets are feeling the heat from a sharp sell-off in China, with futures swimming in the red. In company news, today's stocks to watch include software giant Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), financial firm Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE:BCS), and e-tailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)

  • MSFT announced another round of layoffs, which will to impact workers in the company's hardware and smartphone units. On the charts, the shares have been consolidating atop support in the $43-to-$44 area, which corresponds with an upside gap from late April, and contained a rally in late February. Yesterday, in fact, Microsoft Corporation bounced after touching an intraday low of $43.32 to settle at $44.30. Heavy put open interest at the underfoot July 43 and 44 strikes could reinforce technical support, as bearish bets are unwound ahead of expiration.

  • BCS has fired CEO Antony Jenkins, with the company saying a "new set of skills" is needed for the position. Chairman John McFarlane will assume the role of executive chairman until the appointment of a new CEO. Shifting gears, Barclays PLC has rallied a market-beating 6.6% year-to-date to rest at $16, and in late June touched a fresh annual high of $17.38. That hasn't stopped put buyers from circling, though. During the last 50 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), BCS has racked up a put/call volume ratio of 0.61 -- in the 76th annual percentile. In other words, traders have bought to open puts over calls at an accelerated clip in recent months.

  • Finally, BABA will reportedly invest upwards of $100 million in "flash sales" platform, which specializes in luxury brands such as Armani. The news has done little to lift investor sentiment, with the shares down 3.1% ahead of the open -- and ready to add to their 23.4% year-to-date deficit. In addition, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd skimmed a record low of $76.21 yesterday, before settling at $79.62. This could spell trouble on the Street, where the stock is vulnerable to bearish brokerage notes. Despite BABA's woeful technical track record, 21 of 22 analysts rate the shares a "buy" or better, while the stock's average 12-month price target of $107.62 stands in territory not explored since late December.

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