Hedge Fund Investment Lifts PayPal Ahead of Earnings

There's been unusual call buying on PYPL in recent weeks

Jul 23, 2018 at 2:03 PM
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Stocks are still failing to make a big move in either direction ahead of high-profile earnings releases from some of the largest tech companies. Three names to watch in the meantime are payments processor PayPal Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:PYPL), drugmaker Reata Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:RETA), and troubled restaurant chain Papa John's International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA). Let's take a closer look at how shares of PYPL, RETA, and PZZA are trading today.

Loeb Investment Boosts PayPal Stock

PYPL shares are trading 1.3% higher at $88.62, after investor Daniel Loeb revealed his hedge fund Third Point has taken a stake in the company. Loeb believes the company can become the next interest powerhouse, saying consumers love the platform and that PayPal has the potential to significantly expand margins.

As such, the equity is trading just below its July 12 record high of $89.19, and options traders have been betting it'll expand on its 51% year-over-year gain. PYPL's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 4.51 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) ranks just 4 percentage points from a 12-month high, showing an unusual demand for long calls. Meanwhile, the company is scheduled to report earnings after the close this Wednesday.

Drug Trial Data Sends RETA Soaring

Shares of RETA are near the top of the Nasdaq today, last seen up 56.4% at $72.59, thanks to positive trial data for its kidney disease drug bardoxolone. The stock earlier hit an all-time high of $76.25, and has easily tripled in value since its late-March lows below $20. It's clear analysts have been bullish on Reata Pharmaceuticals, since all six in coverage have "strong buy" ratings. On the other hand, the security has blown past its consensus 12-month price target of $63.50.

PZZA Shares Fall More On Poison Pill News

PZZA stock just hit another two-year low of $46.30, losing another 10% today, due to news the company is adopting a poison pill strategy to fend off ousted CEO and founder John Schnatter. This brings the three-moth decline for Papa John's to nearly 25%, and it would appear a number of short sellers called it quits too soon. For instance, short interest on the stock fell by almost 23% in the last two reporting periods, though there are still 4.5 million PZZA shares sold short -- or almost 18% of the total float. Of course, the stock has landed on the short-sale restricted list today.


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