Retail Stock Ready to Soar After Fresh "Buy" Rating

Craig-Hallum is targeting 20-month highs for BKS

Managing Editor
Dec 17, 2018 at 9:30 AM
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The shares of Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) are up 4.9% in electronic trading, after Craig-Hallum upgrade the book retailer to "buy" from "hold," while boosting its price target to $10 from $7. The new price target represents territory BKS hasn't traded near since March 2017, and is a 54% premium from Friday's closing perch of $6.49. 

Today's rally takes Barnes & Noble stock back above its year-to-date breakeven point. In November, BKS climbed to an annual high of $7.71 amid buyout buzz. The shares pulled back from there to start off December, but quickly found support neartheir 80-day moving average. 

That annual high could be revisited as the remaining shorts are squeezed out. Short interest fell by 2.8% in the most recent reporting period to 11.13 million shares, the lowest since mid September. Still, this represents a hefty 19% of BKS' total available float, and nearly nine days of pent-up buying power, at the average pace of trading.

Options traders are upbeat, albeit amid limited absolute volume. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculative players have bought to open 1,183 calls in the last 10 sessions, compared to just 272 puts. The resultant call/put volume ratio of 4.35 ranks in the modestly elevated 63rd annual percentile, meaning calls have been bought to open over puts at a quicker-than-usual clip.


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