Williams-Sonoma Stock Eyes Best Day in Years After Earnings Beat

Options traders were bearish ahead of earnings

Managing Editor
May 24, 2018 at 9:37 AM
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Retail concern Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (NYSE:WSM) is soaring in early trading, after the company last night upped its current-quarter forecast and reported first-quarter earnings that surpassed expectations. In response, the stock has received no fewer than four price-target hikes, with the most notable coming from Tesley Advisory Group, which raised its target to $64 from $59. This positive analyst attention is rare for WSM, too, as all 17 brokerage firms following the stock currently have tepid "hold" or worse ratings.

At last check, WSM stock is up 11.1% at $54.65, which would be its best day since 2008. It's also set to close above the 50-day moving average for the first time since March. This positive price action is a welcome sight for the stock, as it had been struggling over the past three months, and was sitting just below the year-to-date breakeven point at last night's close.

In the options pits, traders were leaning bearish ahead of WSM's earnings, with data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) showing the retailer with a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.68 ranking in the 78th annual percentile. This indicates that puts have been purchased over calls at a faster-than-usual clip during the past two weeks.

Echoing this, Williams-Sonoma stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) sits at 1.35, ranking in the 74th percentile of its annual range. This lofty ranking indicates that near-term options traders have rarely been more put-biased on WSM in the past year.

The retail stock is heavily shorted, too. The 20.51 million shares sold short represent nearly 30% of the equity's available float. At WSM's average daily trading volume, it would take more than 12 days for shorts to cover their bearish bets -- meaning there's ample fuel for a short squeeze.

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