Buzz Stocks: Weatherford International Plc, Ashland Inc, and Bank of America Corp

Today's stocks to watch include Weatherford International Plc (WFT), Ashland Inc (ASH), and Bank of America Corp (BAC)

by Mark Fightmaster

Published on Sep 22, 2015 at 10:03 AM

U.S. benchmarks are sharply lower this morning, thanks mainly to a steep sell-off across the pond.  Today's equities in focus are oil-and-gas company Weatherford International Plc (NYSE:WFT), chemical producer Ashland Inc (NYSE:ASH), and financial firm Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC).

  1. WFT is 9% higher at $9.16, after the company announced it will not pursue its previously announced public offerings of shares and notes. Weatherford International Plc noted that, while investor interest was strong, "we are unwilling to sell securities at prices that do not reflect the value of what we have created." Longer term, the stock has slipped 38.5% since hitting a near-term high of $14.90 on May 21. Option players have taken note, as WFT's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 11.09 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) outstrips all but 1% of the readings taken in the past year.
  • ASH is 3.6% higher at $109.53, after the firm announced plans to separate into two publicly traded companies. The business that will keep the Ashland Inc name will focus on growth in specialty chemicals, and ASH's Valvoline engine and automotive maintenance business will be spun off. Shareholders will receive stock in both the new Ashland and Valvoline. Technically, ASH has struggled of late, slipping south of its 20-month moving average. Despite these short-term struggles (today's gains notwithstanding), analysts remain bullishly aligned toward the equity -- with seven of nine rating it a "strong buy," and not a single "sell" to be found. 
  • BAC is 1% lower at $15.54, as shareholders are set to vote on whether CEO Brian Moynihan can continue his role as both CEO and chairman, or if he needs to resign from one of the positions. Technically, Bank of America Corp has had a rough year, down 13% in 2015 -- and option players have taken note. BAC's 10-day put/call volume ratio at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX checks in at 0.42, which is higher than 92% of the readings taken during the past 52 weeks. Analysts, on the other hand, are bullish toward the financial firm. At last check, 15 of the 19 brokerages following BAC rate it a "buy" or better. Downgrades in the wake of today's decision could apply downside pressure on the already struggling shares.

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