Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and The Case for E-Tail

Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) is hitting record highs, even as brick-and-mortar retailers drop

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Nov 11, 2015 at 1:23 PM

Brick-and-mortar retailers are taking it on the chin today, weighed down by ugly guidance from Macy's, Inc. (NYSE:M). On the flip side, e-commerce stocks are heating up, with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) just off a record Singles' Day, and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) exploring all-time highs. Against this backdrop, should you take a closer look at Internet retailers? 

Of the 39 names under our "Internet" umbrella, 69% are trading above their 80-day moving average, according to Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Nevertheless, analyst "buy" ratings have dwindled over the past year, and short interest represents 11.7% of the stocks' float, on average. In fact, it would take an average of 6.5 days for the bears to buy back these bets.

Likewise, the First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund (FDN) -- which represents companies that generate at least half their annual sales from the Internet -- has added 25% in 2015, and was last seen 0.7% higher at $76.74 -- within a point of a record high of $77.09, tagged late last week. Still, the exchange-traded fund (ETF) has racked up a 50-day put/call volume ratio of 19.97 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio sits in the 92nd percentile of its annual range, suggesting traders have bought to open FDN puts over calls at a rapid-fire rate during the past 10 weeks.

FDN's leading component is AMZN, which -- as alluded to earlier -- is just off its own record high of $675.96, and was last seen 2.2% higher at $674.09. AMZN shares have more than doubled in 2015, yet the equity's 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 1.04 stands higher than 90% of all other readings from the past year.

Of course, some of the recent put buying could be AMZN shareholders looking to lock in profits in case of a downturn. By buying protective puts, the traders can insure an acceptable exit price for their shares, should the equity backpedal. And heading into today, AMZN already sat on a 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) of 79 -- well into overbought territory.

Whatever the motive, AMZN's put open interest represents nearly 285,000 contracts -- in the 97th percentile of its annual range. Should any bears hit the exits, AMZN could enjoy added tailwinds. 

Today, however, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) calls are making noise, crossing at 1.6 times the average intraday pace. It looks like short-term bulls are gambling on even higher highs for AMZN by the end of this week, buying to open weekly 11/13 670- and 675-strike calls.

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