Hedge Funds Wash Their Hands of Tiffany & Co., Signet Jewelers Ltd.

Nelson Peltz is no longer a fan of Tiffany & Co. (TIF), while Daniel Loeb has thrown in the towel on Signet Jewelers Ltd. (SIG)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Aug 15, 2016 at 11:40 AM

Jewelry stocks Tiffany & Co. (NYSE:TIF) and Signet Jewelers Ltd. (NYSE:SIG) are following the broader market higher at midday. However, this is somewhat surprising, given the fact that a pair of major hedge funds recently liquidated their stakes in the respective companies. Below, we'll take a closer look at the news, while taking a sentiment snapshot in the options pits and beyond.

TIF was last seen 1.6% higher at $68.42. However, late Friday, a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing revealed Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management has eliminated its position in the stock. It's not surprising that someone might wash his hands of a TIF investment, given its year-to-date loss of 10%.

That said, options traders in recent weeks have taken a sunny-side-up approach. Specifically, TIF's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio sits at 1.61 -- outstripping 85% of all other readings from the past year.

Not all of these call buyers are necessarily bulls, though. A hefty 12.8% of Tiffany & Co.'s float is sold short -- approaching a five-year high -- which would take 12 sessions to cover, at the stock's typical trading levels. Put simply, it's possible short sellers have been purchasing calls to act as an upside hedge.

Meanwhile, SIG has charged nearly 3% higher to $93.85, despite a filing that revealed Daniel Loeb's Third Point has liquidated its holdings in the company. Again, this is far from a shock, given that the stock has given up nearly one-quarter of its value in 2016. Even with today's rally, the shares are encountering resistance at their 80-day moving average.

If the aforementioned trendline rejects SIG, a capitulation among option bulls could create additional headwinds. After all, the stock's 50-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 3.18 ranks just 4 percentage points from an annual high. Then again, with 13.5% of SIG's float sold short, these long calls could be of the protective variety.

Future downgrades could also weigh on the shares. Despite Signet Jewelers Ltd.'s chronic underperformance, 92% of covering analysts have deemed it worthy of a "buy" or better endorsement.

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