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Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, eBay News Today

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Pfizer Inc. (PFE), and eBay Inc (EBAY)

Jan 26, 2017 at 9:25 AM
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Another earnings-heavy morning has the Dow on track to run at higher highs after breaking through the 20,000 level on Wednesday. Among specific equities in the spotlight are blue-chip drug stocks Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), as well as online auction site eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY). Here's a quick look at what's driving JNJ, PFE, and EBAY.

Johnson & Johnson Makes a Deal for Actelion

JNJ announced it will buy Actelion for $30 billion in cash. The deal comes after two months of speculation during which Johnson & Johnson at one point walked away from merger discussions with the Swiss biotech firm. As part of the takeover, JNJ will also spin off Actelion's research and development segment. JNJ stock hit a record high above $125 last July, and has since pulled back to support at the 320-day moving average. The shares are off 0.4% ahead of the open, but at last night's close of $112.80, have added 11.5% year-over-year. JNJ could stand to benefit from a round of upbeat attention from the brokerage bunch. At present, more than half of the firms providing coverage maintain a rating of "hold" or worse.

Vaccine Data Lifts Pfizer

PFE is up 0.4% in pre-market trading after the company reported positive results in a phase 2 trial of its C. difficile vaccine. The Dow component has seen some choppy trading since Election Day, but the shares appear to have found a foothold at the $31 level, which roughly corresponds with the year-over-year breakeven level. The shares finished Wednesday just above this mark, at $31.29. Pfizer Inc. is due to report earnings next week, and options traders seem to be expecting downbeat results. The stock holds a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.76 across the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) -- in the bearishly skewed 79th annual percentile.

Analysts Lift Outlooks for eBay on Upbeat Holiday Sales

After meeting expectations for quarterly earnings and revenue, upbeat comments about holiday sales and its revamped platform earned EBAY a round of bullish analyst attention. Specifically, no fewer than 13 brokerage firms raised their price targets on the stock, including Benchmark, which set the highest bar, at $39 -- well into never-before-seen territory. The news has eBay Inc set to add 6.8% at the open. The security has been rallying since bouncing from its 200-day moving average in early December and, at $30.23, has added more than 40% from last February's lows. This may not be the earnings result options traders were hoping for, judging by EBAY's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.83 at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX -- higher than 84% of the past year's readings. An unwinding of these bearish bets could add fuel to the stock's fire, perhaps helping the shares make a run at record highs. 

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