Target, ConAgra Foods Fill New Slots; Ex-Goldman Sachs Exec to Lead Dallas Fed

Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), ConAgra Foods Inc (NYSE:CAG), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS) managers -- and ex-managers -- are making waves

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:52 PM

It's been a relatively busy day on Wall Street, as traders digest upbeat housing stats and downbeat manufacturing data; M&A news for Pentair plc. Ordinary Share (NYSE:PNR), Williams Companies Inc (NYSE:WMB), and this online retailer; and a handful of leadership changes. Among stocks making noise in the latter category are retailer Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), packaged food concern ConAgra Foods Inc (NYSE:CAG), and financial firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:GS). 

Starting Sept. 1, John Mulligan will serve in the newly created role of executive vice president and chief operating officer at TGT. Meanwhile, Cathy Smith will also serve as executive vice president, as well as chief financial officer. At last check, TGT shares were 0.2% higher at $78.97. From a longer-term perspective, TGT has been on a tear since late 2014, and since touching an all-time peak of $85.81 on June 23, the stock has pulled back to test its 10-month moving average, which has ascended into the $78 region. 

A short squeeze or a round of upbeat analyst attention -- possibly after a positive earnings surprise later this week -- could help Target Corporation's cause. Short interest represents more than a week's worth of pent-up buying demand, at TGT's average pace of trading, and just eight of 20 analysts offer up "buy" or better ratings.

CAG named Darren Serrao its chief growth officer -- also a newly created role -- effective immediately. The shares of CAG are down 0.3% at $45.13, and since a mid-June bull gap have been consolidating just under the $45.50 level.

Despite outperforming the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) during the past three months -- and notching a record high of $45.49 in early July -- CAG's short-term options crowd is more put-heavy than usual. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.04 sits just 5 percentage points from an annual peak. A shift in sentiment among options traders could add fuel to ConAgra Foods Inc's fire.

Finally, former GS vice chairman Robert Steven Kaplan was appointed president of the Dallas Fed. Kaplan -- a professor and senior associate dean at Harvard Business School -- will replace Richard Fisher, but will not be a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee until 2017. The news hasn't done much for GS, obviously; the stock was last seen 0.2% higher at $202.40, and has spent the past few weeks testing a round-number foothold atop the $200 level -- home to its ascending 10-month moving average.

However, Goldman Sachs Group Inc gets no love on the Street, as just two of the 14 covering brokerage firms offer up "buy" or better endorsements. Plus, option bears have been more active than usual, as the equity'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 0.98 -- in the 70th percentile of its annual range. Should GS bounce off double-barreled support, a change of heart among analysts and/or options buyers could be a boon for GS.


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