Analysts Call For Breakouts From Wendy's, Chipotle Stocks

Recent options activity has been bullish on WEN and CMG

by Josh Selway

Published on Apr 18, 2018 at 10:17 AM

Back in late February we highlighted the growing bullish bias from analysts toward fast food stock Wendy's Company (NASDAQ:WEN), and that trend has continued in the subsequent weeks. Specifically,  WEN was upgraded at UBS back on March 1, and Mizuho a couple weeks later initiated coverage with a "buy" rating. Today, it's a Stifel price-target hike to $20 from $18 that's guiding the shares higher, as they were last seen up 2.4% at $17.73.

It's been 11 years since the security has traded above $20. In order for WEN to reach this price target, it'll need to break out of recent consolidation in the $16.80-$17.70 range, with this latter price point also capping a rally attempt back in January. Overall, Wendy's is up 7.6% in 2018, and it could add to these gains if short sellers keep covering. Even after a 7.7% decline in short interest during the last two reporting periods, 14% of the total float remains sold short.

Options traders have been showing bullish tendencies, too. During the past 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), nearly 1,400 calls have been bought to open, compared to just 99 puts. And although the May 16 put saw the largest increase in open interest during this time frame, data shows mostly sell-to-open activity at the strike.

Shifting gears, fellow restaurant stock Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) is also enjoying bullish analyst attention, after SunTrust Robinson this morning lifted its price target to $380 from $340. CMG shares were last seen trading up 0.8% at $335.72, just below the $340 area that blocked their last two breakout attempts in March and January.

SunTrust's opinion is certainly an outlier, as just 17% of covering analysts say to buy the equity -- though Baird has waxed optimistic on Chipotle's new CEO. Moreover, the average 12-month price target stands down at $314.48. But with CMG up 16.4% year-to-date, more bull notes could come through if it can take out that stubborn $340 area. Options traders certainly look bullish, as the 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 1.68 ranks in the 90th annual percentile, showing an unusual appetite for long calls over puts.

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