Barclays Upgrades Outperforming Quest Diagnostics Stock

Call traders have missed out on DGX's rise up the charts

Jun 25, 2018 at 9:22 AM
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About a month ago, we highlighted the growing bullish bias toward healthcare stock Quest Diagnostics Inc (NYSE:DGX), and that trend is continuing this morning. DGX shares were just upgraded to "overweight" from "equal weight" at Barclays, which also hiked its price target to $130 from $120 -- representing all-time-high territory. The brokerage firm is optimistic about the diagnostic company's recent agreement with health insurers, which it sees as a potential catalyst for future growth, on top of Quest's efforts to better utilize patient data.

Following this bullish analyst note, the stock is trading up 0.8% ahead of the open. The security on Friday notched its best close in over a year, settling at $112.04. Since DGX closed just above $100 back on May 24, it's rallied over 11% and hasn't breached its 20-day moving average. What's more, it's now trading just above its year-over-year breakeven point, located near $110.

Again, most of Wall Street remains bearish on the stock, with the majority of covering analysts handing out tepid "hold" ratings. DGX is also on the verge of taking out its consensus 12-month price target of $113.80, and as a result could see additional bullish attention going forward.

Options traders haven't been displaying much optimism, either. Only 43 calls were bought to open during the past two weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). And interestingly, Quest Diagnostics' 30-day implied volatility skew is 18.3%, and ranks in the 91st annual percentile, which means calls are actually attracting much lower-than-normal volatility premiums than puts.

For anyone considering speculating on more upside from DGX stock, the front-month July 115 call could be one contract to consider. The ask price for this option was recently seen at 80 cents, meaning a long trade will be profitable at expiration on a move atop $115.80 (strike plus premium paid) -- a slim 3.4% advance from the equity's close on Friday.


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