5 Food Stocks Stepping Into the Limelight

Among the food and restaurant stocks with big news lately are Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD), Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI), and PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Sep 18, 2015 at 10:14 AM

Food and restaurant companies made headlines early this week -- some for same-store sales data, others for earnings results. The news stream hasn't relented, though. Here's a quick look at five food-related stocks coming off notable announcements:

Yesterday, Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) ended its relationship with comedian Steve Rannazzisi due to his lies about 9/11, and pulled its ads featuring him. The stock, meanwhile, has been strong -- tacking on 10.1% year-to-date at $198.66, and approaching a record high of $204.70 from earlier this month. Nonetheless, traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have been betting bearishly, per BWLD's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 4.14 -- an annual high. A capitulation among these doubters could result in tailwinds.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc.'s (NYSE:CMG) recent salmonella outbreak was caused by tomatoes, the Minnesota health department said. One group that's not sick is CMG shareholders, with the stock up over 6% year-to-date at $727.60 -- and not far from its early August all-time high of $758.61. Short-term traders remain put-skewed, though. The equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.32 ranks in the 84th annual percentile.

Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI) brand Olive Garden once again decided to sell all-you-can-eat pasta passes on Thursday -- and the 2,000 units offered sold out in one second. Meanwhile, the company's stock has been cooking, up nearly 20% year-to-date at $70.28, and on the doorstep of its all-time peak of $75.60, notched in late July. Despite these strong technicals, DRI's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 10.20 sits a mere 7 percentage points from an annual high. Should these bears begin to hit the exits, the shares could catch a lift.

PepsiCo, Inc. (NYSE:PEP) snack brand Doritos announced it will sell rainbow-colored chips for a limited time, in partnership with the It Gets Better Project. Shares of the food firm are off nearly 2% in 2015 at $92.73, and are struggling to stay atop their 20-month moving average, located at $92.35. Option traders are betting on more downside, too, per PEP's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 2.03 -- higher than 98% of comparable readings taken in the past year.

Finally, Burger King -- owned by Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE:QSR) -- is teaming up with a number of chains to sell "peace day burgers" next Monday, Sept. 21. The initiative is meant to raise awareness of -- and money for -- the non-profit Peace One Day. On the charts, QSR has lost 4.4% year-to-date at $37.33, but option traders are rolling the dice on a breakout. Specifically, during the past 10 weeks, speculators have bought to open 12.45 calls for every put.

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