General Motors, Ford Stocks Pop After June Sales; Jana Jolts Rice Energy

Rice Energy stock is stumbling after Jana Partners encouraged EQT Corporation to nix its planned buyout

Managing Editor
Jul 3, 2017 at 11:59 AM
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U.S. stocks are trading higher, with the Dow hitting a record high ahead of an early market close. Carmakers General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) are in the news today, while oil-and-gas stock Rice Energy Inc (NYSE:RICE) is trading notably lower. Here's a quick look at what's moving shares of GM, F, and RICE.

June Sales Data Lifts General Motors Stock

General Motors stock is up 2.9% to trade at $35.94 -- on pace for its best close in mid-March -- after the company reported June retail sales and said it anticipates "U.S. retail vehicle sales will remain strong for [the] foreseeable future." GM stock is now up more than 3% year-to-date, and its 10- and 20-week moving averages just made a bullish cross. 

An unwinding of pessimism in the options pits could drive even more gains for General Motors shares. GM's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.37 sits in the 92nd percentile of its annual range, suggesting short-term options players have rarely been more put-skewed in the past year. 

Ford Stock Among SPX Best After June Auto Sales

Ford stock is up nearly 4% to trade at $11.60, and is one of the best stocks on the S&P 500 (SPX) today. Despite June sales dropping roughly 5% year-over-year, industry experts remain confident, and Ford exec Mark LaNeve noted that, "Customers drove a record 406,464 Ford brand SUV sales in the first half of this year, with Explorer sales increasing 23 percent in June."  The auto stock has rallied nearly 9% since falling to an annual low of $10.67 on May 17 -- just before Ford named a new CEO -- and is set to close atop its 80-day moving average for the first time since March. 

There seems to be room for Ford stock to run, however. Of the 15 brokerages covering F stock, nine rate it a "hold" or worse. This leaves plenty of room for upgrades, which could bring more buyers to the table.

Rice Energy Stock Dips After Jana's EQT Stake

Rice Energy stock is down 4% to trade at $25.55, after activist investor Jana Partners took a 5.8% stake in EQT Corporation (NYSE:EQT), encouraging the company to nix its planned acquisition of Rice Energy. RICE stock gapped higher on June 19, after EQT offered to buy the firm for %6.7 billion, and hit a year-to-date peak of $27.01 on Friday. Now, Rice Energy shares are clinging to support atop their 10-day moving average, and earlier fell as low as $24.65. 

For traders expecting the RICE/EQT deal to fall through, and translate into short-term volatility for RICE stock, now may be the time to purchase near-term options. Rice Energy boasts a Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 27%, which stands higher than just 5% of all other readings in the past year. This suggests short-term options prices are close to their most attractive price of the year, from a historical volatility standpoint. 

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