3 Chip Stocks Sinking on Downgrades

NXPI stock hit a new two-year low earlier

Sep 12, 2018 at 2:17 PM
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The Nasdaq is lagging today as chip stocks sell off. Among semiconductor names seeing big losses are Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU), NXP Semiconductors NV (NASDAQ:NXPI), and MACOM Technology Solutions Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:MTSI) -- which were all hit with bearish brokerage attention earlier. Here's a closer look at the negative analyst notes sending shares of MU, NXPI, and MTSI lower.

Goldman Sachs Cut Its MU Rating, Price Target

Goldman Sachs downgraded the semiconductor capital equipment sector to "neutral" from "attractive," citing concerns over DRAM and NAND oversupply. For Micron Technology, specifically, the brokerage firm cut its rating to "neutral" from "buy," and slashed its price target to $50 from $68. In reaction, MU stock is down 4.4% to trade at $41.70, but earlier found support near its year-to-date breakeven mark.

This is just the latest in a round of bearish brokerage notes, with Baird lowering its MU price target just last week. As a result, Micron shares are staring at one-week loss of 16%, and are pacing for a second straight close beneath their 320-day moving average -- which hasn't been done since August 2016.

Speculative players appear to be targeting a quick bounce for the chip stock. Amid accelerated options trading today -- around 342,000 contracts have traded, two times what's typically seen at this point -- buy-to-open activity has been detected at the weekly 9/14 42- and 43-strike calls.

Stifel Says NXP Semiconductors Post-QCOM Plan Creates Risk

Stifel, meanwhile, took aim at analog semiconductor names, labeling tariff uncertainty and the possibility of a cyclical peak as red flags. The brokerage firm also downgraded NXP Semiconductors to "sell" from "hold," and cut its price target to $84 from $99, saying the company's plan to move forward after a failed Qualcomm (QCOM) takeover -- which includes a share buyback program and dividend payment -- increases risk to the stock.

At last check, NXPI stock was down 3.3% at $86.61, fresh off a two-year low of $84.59. Since it's most recent high of $122.24 in early June, the security has plunged 29%, and options traders don't expect the bleeding to stop anytime soon. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.02 ranks in the 72nd annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at a quicker-than-usual clip.

Heavily Shorted MTSI Stock Sinks on Stifel "Sell" Rating

MACOM Technology Solutions saw its rating cut to "sell" from "hold" at Stifel, which also lowered its price target on the chip stock to $20 from $22. Most recently, MTSI stock was down 11.3% to trade at $19.49, bringing its year-over-year decline to 55.7%. Plus, the shares are now trading below recent support at the 120-day moving average and round $20 level, the latter of which corresponds to an early May bull gap.

Short sellers have been in the drivers seat on this sinking chip stock, too. Though MACOM Technology Solutions is on the short-sale restricted list today, there are currently 12.06 million MTSI shares sold short, representing a significant 27% of the equity's available float.

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