Cyberattacks Send American Airlines Group Inc, Sabre Corp South

China-backed hackers have reportedly struck American Airlines Group Inc (AAL) and Sabre Corp (SABR)

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 7, 2015 at 2:14 PM

As the Senate headed to recess this week without voting on a highly anticipated cybersecurity bill, reports emerged that China-backed hackers struck again, this time targeting airline issue American Airlines Group Inc (NASDAQ:AAL) and travel technology solution specialist Sabre Corp (NASDAQ:SABR). This follows a string of attacks this year -- including those on United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL), Anthem Inc (NYSE:ANTM), and the federal government -- that have been linked to the same group.

On the charts, AAL has turned lower in the wake of the reports -- and amid a bearish bias in the broader equities market. At last check, the stock was off 1.5% at $41.53, widening its year-to-date deficit to 22.6%. What's more, the shares continue to stare up at the $43-to-$44 region. This area roughly coincides with the lows of AAL's late-May bear gap, and has since served as an overhead ceiling.

Nevertheless, option traders have kept the faith. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), AAL's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 4.86 ranks in the 94th annual percentile. Simply stated, calls have been bought to open over puts with more rapidity just 6% of the time within the past year. Should American Airlines Group Inc continue to struggle, an unwinding of these bullish bets could translate into fresh headwinds for the shares.

SABR is also trading lower today, down 0.7% at $27.90. Unlike AAL, though, SABR has put in a strong performance on the charts in 2015 -- tacking on 37%. What's more, the shares topped out at a record peak of $28.80 yesterday, after Imperial Capital raised its price target to $35 from $30.

Widening the sentiment scope reveals this upbeat analyst note is just more of the same. All nine brokerages covering Sabre Corp maintain a "buy" or better recommendation. Plus, the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.74 sits in the 30th percentile of its annual range. In other words, short-term speculators are more call-skewed than usual toward the stock.

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