2 Surging Tech Stocks With Cheap Options

Cisco Systems and United Technologies stocks are leading the Dow this morning

Managing Editor
Jan 5, 2018 at 10:04 AM
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Echoing the Dow's hot start to 2018, two blue-chip tech stocks are buzzing after receiving some bullish analyst attention. This morning, Dow components Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) and United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) both received upgrades and price-target hikes, and have already notched fresh multi-year highs. Further, both CSCO and UTX stocks are set for their best week in months, and near-term options are attractively priced at the moment.

CSCO Stock Eyes Best Week Since November

Cisco stock was upgraded to "buy" from "neutral," and received a price-target hike to $46 from $37 at BofA-Merrill Lynch. The brokerage firm believes the company is in the midst of a positive transition to software, and will receive the added benefit of tax reform in 2018.

The news has CSCO stock up 2% to trade at $39.76, and fresh off a new 17-year high of $39.88. The equity has tacked on3.3% so far this week, on pace for its biggest weekly gain since a mid-November post-earnings bull gap.

In the options pits, calls continue to be in vogue. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows CSCO with a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 3.17. Not only does this show long calls outnumbering puts by a 3-to-1 ratio, but the ratio ranks in the 91st percentile of its annual range, pointing to a much healthier-than-usual appetite for bullish bets over bearish in the past two weeks.

Options traders looking to capitalize on CSCO stock's near-term momentum can do so at a relative discount. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 14% is in just the 8th percentile of its annual range, pointing to relatively mild near-term volatility expectations priced into Cisco options.

Baird Sees More Record Highs Ahead for UTX Stock

This morning, Baird upgraded United Technologies stock to "outperform" from "neutral," while also issuing a price-target hike to $156 from $121. Analysts at Baird are encouraged by the tech company's pending deal with Rockwell Collins (COL), as well as a potential boost from tax reform. Bernstein also chimed in with a price-target hike of its own, to $135 from $128.

UTX is up 1.1% to trade at $131.90 this morning, and just touched a record high of $132.36. The tech stock is eyeing its seventh straight week in the black, and has rallied 3.2% so far this week -- its best week since April.

Options trader seem wary of more upside moves. For instance, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) stands at 1.53, showing put open interest outweighs call open interest among options expiring within three months. This reading also ranks in the 85th percentile of its annual range, so this type of put-skew is unusual. Should UTX continue to rise, it could lead to an unwinding of these bearish bets.

Bullish or bearish, it's a good time to buy short-term options, according to UTX's SVI of 12%, which ranks in just the 5th annual percentile. In other words, volatility expectations for near-term options are very muted at the moment.



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