Nordstrom, Inc., Dillard's, Inc. Earnings Moves Set Fire to Options Pits

Both Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN) and Dillard's, Inc. (NYSE:DDS) are trading higher post-earnings

Aug 12, 2016 at 10:53 AM
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A number of retail stocks have made big post-earnings moves this week, and department store chains Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN) and Dillard's, Inc. (NYSE:DDS) are no exception. While DDS appeared to be succumbing to the same post-earnings fate as fellow retailer Coach Inc (NYSE:COH), the stock has since swung higher, joining JWN stock on the plus side of the ledger. What's more, today's strong earnings reactions have sparked a fire in the options pits for both JWN and DDS.

JWN options, for instance, are crossing the tape at 12 times what's typically seen at this point in the day. With 42,744 options traded so far, volume is docked in the 100th annual percentile. Most active is the stock's September 50 and 55 calls where it looks like one trader may be closing out of her long call spread.

More broadly speaking, pre-earnings options traders had shown a preference for calls over puts on JWN. However, with 36% of the stock's float sold short, some of this activity could have been of the protective kind.

Regardless, Nordstrom, Inc. was last seen up 8.4% at $50.98, after the retailer posted a second-quarter profit beat and boosted its full-year forecast.  Additionally, JWN received a bevy of price-target hikes, with KeyBanc's new $65 target setting the highest bar. Although the shares are on track to close north of their 40-week moving average for the first time since last August, they haven't traded north of $65 since November.

Both stock and options volume are soaring on DDS. By the numbers, about 950,000 DDS shares and 2,241 options have changed hands. While this is relatively light on an absolute basis, both numbers are docked in the 100th annual percentiles. The equity's August 67.50 call has received the most attention, and it appears as if speculators may be selling to close their now in-the-money options.

Widening the sentiment scope reveals call buyers have been piling into DDS' options pits in a hurry in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), DDS' 10-day call/put volume ratio of 3.74 ranks just 2 percentage points from a 52-week peak. However, a healthy 13.5% of the equity's float is sold short, suggesting some of this may have been a result of shorts hedging against upside risk.

At last check, the stock was up 3.7% at $68.93, as a second-quarter profit beat overshadows sales that fell just shy of estimates. Additionally, Dillard's, Inc. received price-target hikes from Deutsche Bank (to $56) and J.P. Morgan Securities (to $61), even though the latter said the "Dillard's engine has clearly stalled."

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