Buzz Stocks: BlackBerry Ltd, Apple Inc., and Yahoo! Inc.

Today's stocks to watch include BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY), Apple Inc. (AAPL), and Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)

Dec 18, 2015 at 9:45 AM
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U.S. indexes are lower this morning, as traders eye a continued slide in oil prices, along with a surprise move from the Bank of Japan. Among the equities in focus are tech companies BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY)Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO). 

  • BBRY is trading 8.9% higher at $88.50 today -- and on pace to topple its 32-week moving average for the first time since May --  after reporting quarterly earnings that topped Wall Street expectations. The stock has lately been a target of bearish attention, despite outperforming the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by nearly 10 percentage points over the past two months. Of the 18 analysts following BlackBerry Ltd, 14 give it a "hold" rating or worse. And 15% of BBRY's available float is sold short -- accounting for more than 16 days of trading, at the stock's typical volumes. Options traders have been pessimistic, too. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), BBRY has a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.82 -- higher than 92% of readings from the past year. If analysts change their tune or bears begin to abandon their positions, a serious rally could be ahead for the shares.
  • AAPL announced last night that it has formed a partnership with China UnionPay, an electronic payments processor, to bring Apple Pay to China early next year. However, the duo will face major competition from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's (NYSE:BABA) Alipay. AAPL is attempting to stave off broad-market headwinds -- on top of mounting concerns about iPhone sales -- with the shares up 0.4% at $108.56. Apple Inc. sits just 1.7% shy of breakeven for 2015, and near-term options traders have been lukewarm at best. AAPL has a Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.83 -- higher than 80% of readings in the past 12 months, indicating an unusually strong preference for puts among options expiring in the next three months. Still, analysts remain optimistic, as 72% of brokerages following the stock maintain a "buy" rating or better, without a "sell" to be found, and the the 12-month consensus price target of $149.05 is in record-high territory.
  • YHOO is up 0.8% at $33.48, after the New York Post said CFO Ken Goldman has been fielding calls from suitors eager to buy the company's core business, stoking talk of a possibly proxy fight on the horizon. While Goldman allegedly insists Yahoo! Inc. is not for sale, activist investors are hoping that a buyout could boost the shares, which have fallen nearly 34% so far this year. The stock went on a wild ride last week, after Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its stake BABA, curbing chatter about a potential sale of its core Internet business. Options traders are hoping for more downside, as YHOO's 50-day put/call volume ratio on the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX is 0.75 -- in the 90th bearish percentile for the past 12 months. Yet 20 out of 29 analysts still give the security a "buy" rating, meaning there is plenty of room on the bearish bandwagon.

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