Analyst: Buy This FAANG Stock Before Earnings

FB is testing a key trendline today

by Patrick Martin

Published on Jan 15, 2019 at 10:01 AM

The shares of Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) are up 2% to trade at $148.29 this morning, after Barclays weighed in on the social media sector, saying it is "slightly more optimistic" ahead of fourth-quarter earnings. For FB, specifically, the brokerage firm reaffirmed its "overweight" rating and $180 price target. And given Wall Street's extreme negativity toward the security, Barclays also advised to buy the FAANG stock ahead of earnings. Facebook is scheduled to report after the close on Wednesday, Jan. 30. 

Facebook stock's steep fall in the latter half of 2018 was well-chronicled. Despite a flurry of bear notes to start the new year, FB is boasting a 13.9% year-to-date lead -- second only to Netflix (NFLX) in terms of the best FAANG stock so far in 2019. Thanks to today's lift, FB shares are on track to close above their 80-day moving average for the first time since their late-July bear gap. 

Shorts have ramped up their exposure lately. Short interest increased by 12.8% in the last two reporting periods to 34.46 million shares, the most since October 2015. Nevertheless, this still only represents a slim 1.5% of FB's total available float.

The tilt in the options pits still leans toward calls. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculative players have bought to open 128,667 calls in the last 10 sessions, compared to 86,899 puts. Echoing this, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.66 and sits in just the 12th percentile of its annual range, implying that near-term option traders have rarely been more call-biased during the past year. 

Whatever the motive, traders looking to speculate on Facebook's short-term price action should consider options. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) sits at a lofty 91 out of a possible 100, meaning the stock has handily exceeded options traders' volatility expectations in the past year -- a boon for would-be premium buyers.

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