Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Edges Higher on CEO Speculation

Is Yahoo! Inc.'s (NASDAQ:YHOO) Marissa Mayer on the way out?

by Josh Selway

Published on Nov 30, 2015 at 11:43 AM

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) hasn't exactly been lighting it up recently. The shares have been trending lower since hitting a decade-plus high of $52.62 just over a year ago. More recently, YHOO unveiled disappointing quarterly results at the end of October, and has underperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 8 percentage points in the past 20 sessions. During the stock's struggles -- and controversial Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) spin-off plans -- CEO Marissa Mayer has come under fire, with SunTrust Robinson today compiling a list of candidates to potentially take her job. In response, the security has picked up 1.5% to sit at $33.43. 

Despite YHOO's long-term struggles, option buyers have been betting on a rebound. During the past 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), 4.72 calls have been bought to open for each put. Furthermore, this ratio outranks 96% of all others from the past year, meaning call buying has rarely been this popular. 

This call bias is also evidenced by YHOO's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR). At 0.52, this reading shows that call open interest almost doubles put open interest among options set to expire within the next three months. Maybe more importantly, these short-term traders have been more call-skewed only 15% of the time in the past year. 

Analysts, too, have high hopes for the stock. Of the 29 brokerage firms covering the shares, 20 rate them a "buy" or better, with none saying it's a "sell." What's more, YHOO's average 12-month price target of $41.86 represents a more than 25% premium to current levels.

On the charts, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) could run into a speed bump in the $35 region. This area stifled the stock's rebound attempts in late October, and is home to the equity's descending 20-week moving average. Should the stock continue to struggle, an unwinding of optimism among option traders or analysts could exacerbate selling pressure on YHOO.

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