Downgrade Drops U.S. Steel; Expedia Stock Soars to Record Highs

Options traders are flocking to Expedia calls

Managing Editor
Jul 28, 2017 at 2:01 PM
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U.S. stocks are mixed, as Wall Street closes out a busy week of earnings. Steel stock U.S. Steel Corporation (NYSE:X), biotech ImmunoGen, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMGN), and online travel company Expedia Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE) are all in the news this afternoon, albeit for different reasons. Here's a quick look at what's moving shares of X, IMGN, and EXPE.

Downgrade Sends U.S. Steel Lower

U.S. Steel stock is down 7.8% to trade at $23.04, after Citi downgraded the steel concern to "sell" from "neutral," and cut its price target to $20 from $26. Analysts cited risks from steel prices as a concern for the remainder of 2017. This news erases U.S. Steel's earnings-related gains from earlier this week, pushing X stock back below its 80-day moving average. X stock has now shed 30% year-to-date.

In the options pit, traders have shown a preference toward calls. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), X boasts a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 2.91, which ranks 6 percentage points from an annual high. An unwinding of these bullish bets could send X stock even lower. 

ImmunoGen Ups Sales Forecast, Stock Soars

ImmunoGen stock is up a whopping 15.1% to trade back above its 20-day moving average at $7.01, after the company raised its 2017 sales forecast by 63%. The company's second-quarter sales also jumped five-fold thanks to partnerships with Sanofi and Debiopharm. While the biotechnology stock is up more than 244% year-to-date, it still has room to run before topping its 14-month high of $8.04, tagged on July 6.

IMGN sports a Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.48 -- higher than just 24% of all other readings from the past year. In other words, near-term options traders are more call-heavy than usual. However, short interest represents more than 25% of IMGN's total available float. At IMGN's average daily trading, it would take nearly six sessions to buy back these bearish bets, which leaves plenty of room for potential sideline buying power.

Expedia Touches Record Highs, Could Spook Shorts

Expedia shares are up 4% to trade at $160.39 -- and just off a record high of $161 -- after the company reported better-than-expected second-quarter earnings. Expedia also announced Thursday that it will be making a $350 million minority investment in Traveloka Holding company. EXPE stock received no fewer than six price-target raises from brokerage firms, including J.P. Morgan Securities ($160) and Credit Suisse ($175).

Most analysts following EXPE stock are already bullish, with 16 of 21 carrying a "buy" or better rating. However, a short squeeze could propel Expedia shares even higher. Short interest represents nearly 12 sessions' worth of pent-up buying demand, at the equity's average pace of trading.

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