Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM) Continues Hot Streak Amid M&A Buzz

Yum! Brands, Inc. (YUM) is reportedly in talks with KKR & Co. L.P. (KKR) over the restaurant operator's China business

Mar 23, 2016 at 2:21 PM
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Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) is getting a boost today, following reports the Pizza Hut parent is in talks with KKR & Co. L.P. (NYSE:KKR) about selling a nearly 20% stake in its China business. At last check, YUM is 1.8% higher at $80.40 -- approaching a six-month peak -- and has rallied 24.5% since its two-year low of $64.58 on Feb. 11. However, sentiment is pretty negative toward the stock, both inside and outside of its options pits.

For starters, YUM has amassed a put/call volume ratio of 0.97 during the past 50 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). While this reading indicates long calls edge out puts on an absolute basis, it ranks in the bearishly skewed 86th percentile of its annual range. In other words, option traders have been buying to open YUM puts over calls at a much quicker-than-usual clip.

Elsewhere, the majority of brokerage firms don't think much of the stock. Specifically, nine of 16 analysts rate YUM a lukewarm "hold." Plus, the average 12-month price target of $84.60 is just a chip-shot away from the shares' current perch. Should option traders or analysts abandon the bears' camp, YUM could enjoy additional tailwinds.

By contrast, short sellers have been staging a mass exodus from Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) amid its recent technical tear. During the most recent reporting period, short interest plummeted 33.5%. Now, a slim 2.4% of YUM's float is sold short, which would take just two days to cover, at the stock's typical trading levels.

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