Media Roundup: Amazon.com, Lumber Liquidators, Comcast, and Walt Disney

AMZN and LL are battling bad press, while movie fans are cheering CMCSA and DIS

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Aug 17, 2015 at 12:18 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

The media is powerful, especially in the age of at-your-fingertips information and real-time news alerts.  Just ask Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos, who came out swingin' after an unflattering New York Times article, or Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc (NYSE:LL), which has been suffering since an even more unflattering "60 Minutes" expose. Outside of print and the small screen, Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMSCA) has been on fire this summer, while "Star Wars" geeks -- I mean, fans -- are cheering the latest move from Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS).

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)

New York Times Co's (NYSE:NYT) namesake paper over the weekend published an article highlighting the "bruising workplace" of AMZN, where "workers are encouraged to tear apart one another's ideas in meetings, toil long and late … and held to standards that the company boasts are 'unreasonably high.'" In response, Bezos said he doesn't "recognize this Amazon" and he "would leave such a company," and told employees they're "the best of the best." 

AMZN shares spent a good chunk of the morning in the red, but have since popped 0.1% higher to sit at $532.07. Since gapping to an all-time peak of $580.57 after earnings in late July, the shares have taken a breather, consolidating in the $520-$535 region. 

AMZN option buyers have been picking up puts over calls at a faster-than-usual clip, though, suggesting traders are either betting on or hedging against a pullback. The stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) sits at 0.97 -- above 78% of all other readings from the past year. 

Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc (LL)

LL also got off to a rocky start this morning, but has since edged 0.4% higher to flirt with $14.07. Back in March, "60 Minutes" claimed the company's China-made flooring wasn't safe, and last night's re-airing looked like it was going to pressure LL again. In fact, since the original telecast, LL has surrendered more than two-thirds of its value, and is now trading near six-year lows. 

It's no surprise to see shorts piling on, as these bearish bets account for 34.5% of LL's total available float. At the equity's average pace of trading, it would take about eight sessions to repurchase these pessimistic positions. 

Comcast Corporation (CMSCA)

Earlier this month, Universal Pictures -- owned by CMCSA -- made box-office records, raking in $5.53 billion in global ticket sales this year, and we're only in August. The studio secured wins with "Furious 7" and "Jurassic World," and now "Straight Outta Compton" notched the biggest R-rated August opening since Universal's "American Pie" sequel 14 years ago. 

An unwinding of pessimism in the options pits could propel CMCSA even higher still. The equity's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio sits at an annual high of 9.14, even though CMCSA just hit an all-time peak of $64.99 last month. Since then, the security has pulled back to the $60 area, home to its supportive 50-week moving average. At last check, CMCSA was up 1.3% at $59.62.

Walt Disney Co (DIS) 

Wrapping up our media round-up is DIS, which is enjoying a relatively rare round of good news -- lately, at least. The stock is up 1.5% at $108.77, after CEO Bob Iger said the firm is "creating a jaw-dropping new world" of "Star Wars"-themed land expansions at its Orlando and Anaheim parks. 

Earlier this month, DIS led a broader media meltdown, sinking more than 9% in the session after earnings. The stock is down 9.4% for August, but its 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) sits at 31 -- on the cusp of oversold territory. Meanwhile, DIS option traders have been upping the bearish ante, as the equity's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX volume ratio of 0.74 stands higher than three-quarters of all other readings from the past year.


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