Pandora, Ascena Retail, First Solar Downgraded

Reports of a Sirius (SIRI) bid are helping Pandora (P) stock higher, while Ascena Retail (ASNA) shares are plummeting on earnings

by Karee Venema

Published on May 18, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Analysts are weighing in on streaming content provider Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P), Ann Taylor parent Ascena Retail Group Inc (NASDAQ:ASNA), and alternative energy stock First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes on shares of P, ASNA, and FSLR.

P Stock Shrugs Off Price-Target Cut Amid SIRI Buyout Rumors

Pandora stock has jumped 6.4% to trade at $9.50, after the New York Post said the company is in "active discussions" with Liberty Media-controlled Sirius XM Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ:SIRI) about a possible takeover, with some speculating P could fetch a bid of $12 to $13 per share. The buyout buzz is overshadowing a price-target cut to $10.50 from $16 at SunTrust Robinson, though this is still above last night's close at $8.93.

Today's price action runs in stark contrast to P stock's longer-term trajectory, with the shares down more than 30% heading into today's trading, and fresh off yesterday's annual low of $8.92. Short sellers have been in control of P stock amid these technical troubles, too. Short interest represents almost 40% of the equity's available float, and is just off a mid-April record high.

ASNA Stock Nosedives After Earnings

Ascena Retail Group stock is the worst performer on the Nasdaq out of the gate, down 37% at $1.77 -- an 17-year low. Sparking the sell-off is Ascena's downwardly revised current-quarter and full-year outlooks, due to "industry-wide traffic headwinds." Adding fuel to the bearish fire are price-target cuts from Telsey Advisory (to $3) and Citigroup to $1.50. Though ASNA stock is short-sale restricted today, traders have been upping the bearish ante in recent weeks. Short interest rose 8.2% in the two most recent reporting periods to nearly 41 million shares, or 30.5% of ASNA's available float.

Baird Downgrades FSLR Stock

Analysts at Baird downgraded First Solar stock to "neutral," with a price target of $38. FSLR shares are down 3.5% at $33.76, but could find support at their 200-day moving average, which was taken earlier this month for the first time in more than a year. Today's downgrade just echoes the growing skepticism seen toward First Solar.

While the stock's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 0.73 ranks in the 74th annual percentile -- meaning puts have been open at a faster-than-usual clip relative to calls -- short interest jumped 11.3% in the most recent reporting period. These bearish bets now account for more than a quarter of FSLR stock's available float.

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