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

Andrea Kramer
Aug 17, 2015 at 12:18 PM
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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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