Buzz Stocks: Abercrombie & Fitch Co., Foot Locker, Inc., and Applied Materials, Inc.

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Abercrombie & Fitch Co (ANF), Foot Locker, Inc. (FL), and Applied Materials, Inc. (AMAT)

Nov 18, 2016 at 10:30 AM
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U.S. stocks are hovering near breakeven, after some hawkish comments from St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. Among specific equities in focus today are retailers Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (NYSE:ANF) and Foot Locker, Inc. (NYSE:FL), as well as semiconductor stock Applied Materials, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT). Here's a quick look at what's driving ANF, FL, and AMAT.

  • ANF is down 13.3% at $14.69 after a disappointing earnings report, despite the retailer's recent rebranding efforts. ANF has been in a channel of lower highs and lows since 2011, and currently sits down over 45% so far in 2016, touching an eight-year low last week. In the option pits, a number of bears are likely cheering today's tumble, with Abercrombie & Fitch Co.'s 10-day put/call volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) of 1.73 sitting in the top quartile of its annual range. In other words, ANF option buyers were scooping up puts over calls at an accelerated clip ahead of earnings.
  • FL initially turned lower after earnings, but has since muscled to a 0.3% gain to $71.57. While the company delivered per-share earnings ahead of expectations, traders are concerned about decelerating sales growth. The footwear stock has been muscling higher since touching a two-year low of $50.90 in late June, and is attempting to establish a foothold in the $68 area -- where it landed after a post-earnings bull gap in August. FL shares are up over 9% year-to-date, and just touched a annual high of $73.37 earlier this week. Short sellers remain skeptical of Foot Locker, Inc., however, with short interest up 2.8% over the last two reporting periods, and now accounting for 10% of FL's float -- an amount that would take almost two weeks of trading to cover, at FL's average daily pace.
  • AMAT has also waffled after quarterly sales fell short of expectations, but was last seen fractionally higher at $30.76 -- and just off a fresh 15-year high of $31.24. Analysts have been quick to wax optimistic on Applied Materials, Inc., though, with no fewer than 10 price-target hikes, including a bump to $40 from $36 by Craig Hallum. AMAT has been on fire in 2016, boasting a year-to-date gain of more than 64%, ushered higher by its 80-day moving average. Ahead of earnings, option buyers were more bullish than usual, with AMAT's 50-day call/put volume ratio at the ISE/CBOE/PHLX of 3.69 sitting higher than 78% of all other readings from the past 12 months.

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