Analyst Update: Seadrill Ltd, Bank of America Corp, and Symantec Corporation

Analysts adjusted their ratings on Seadrill Ltd (SDRL), Bank of America Corp (BAC), and Symantec Corporation (SYMC)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jan 20, 2016 at 2:17 PM

Analysts are weighing in today on oil rig operator Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL), financial firm Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), and software specialist Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ:SYMC). Here's a quick roundup of today's brokerage notes on SDRL, BAC, and SYMC.

  • Energy stocks are getting rocked this afternoon, and SDRL is no exception. The shares were last seen 11.8% lower at $1.87, and fresh off a record low of $1.60, after getting hit with a downgrade to "underperform" from "neutral" at BofA-Merrill Lynch. Evercore ISI also weighed in, issuing a price-target cut to $1 from $4 on its belief "the offshore market will not see dayrate stabilization until 2018."

    This is music to the ears of bearish option traders, who have been placing bets at a breakneck pace in recent weeks. Across the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), Seadrill Ltd has amassed a top-heavy 10-day put/call volume ratio of 7.27 -- in the top percentile of its annual range. What's more, over 64 million shares are sold short, representing nearly two weeks of trading activity, at SDRL's typical daily volumes.

  • BAC is extending yesterday's negative earnings momentum, last seen 4.8% lower at $13.56. Earlier, the bank stock hit a two-year low of $13.27, as well. While the shares did get some positive attention from Sandler O'Neill -- which upped its rating to "buy" -- it's been overshadowed by a trio of price-target cuts at Barclays (to $19), Bernstein (to $18), and Raymond James (to $17.50). If option traders have their druthers, Bank of America Corp will head to even lower lows. While long calls have outstripped puts during the past two weeks at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, BAC's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.46 ranks in the 92nd percentile of its annual range. In other words, from a historical perspective, speculators have been buying to open puts over calls at an accelerated clip.

  • After the company reported some disappointing news about the sale of its Veritas data storage unit, SYMC was hit with price-target cuts at no fewer than four brokerage firms -- with Cowen setting the lowest bar at $22.50. As such, the shares are off 2.2% at $18.61, after earlier skimming an annual low of $18.31. Even prior to today, the analyst community has been stacked against Symantec Corporation. Specifically, 17 brokerages have doled out "hold" or worse recommendations, while just one recommends buying SYMC stock.
For other stocks in analysts' crosshairs, read Analyst Upgrades: Netflix, Inc., Wayfair Inc, and Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Analyst Downgrades: International Business Machines Corp., Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., and FireEye Inc.

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