Forecast Forces Selling on Fiat Chrysler Stock

FCAU's pullback could be a headwind for the entire auto sector today

by Josh Selway

Published on Feb 7, 2019 at 9:29 AM

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE:FCAU) is down 11.5% before the open, as a downbeat 2019 forecast overshadows a seemingly strong fourth-quarter report. There has yet to be any notable updates from the analyst community following the automaker's quarterly report, but FCAU should be wary of future bear notes. The shares were already down 24% year-over-year coming into today, closing yesterday at $17.35, yet the majority of covering brokerage firms have "buy" or "strong buy" ratings on the security.

Call buying was popular ahead of the earnings release, according to data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), However, much of that activity may have been driven by longer-term traders.

Indeed, the Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for FCAU stands at 6.32, meaning put open interest among options expiring within three months outweighs call open interest by more than 6-to-1. What's more, this reading ranks in the 98th annual percentile, showing such a put-skew for near-term speculators is extremely rare.

On the other hand, sector peer General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) has analysts moving in the opposite direction. That is, bull notes have continued to roll in following the company's impressive earnings release yesterday morning that guided the stock to its highest close since mid-July. Craig-Hallum came in with a price-target hike to $41 from $37 shortly before the close yesterday, and RBC and Barclays also issued overnight price-target increases to $52 -- representing a post-bankruptcy high for the shares.

Looking closer, GM stock is now up 19% year-to-date, closing yesterday at $39.91. Today, though, the equity is getting hit with FCAU headwinds, set to open down 1.2%. Most analysts are already believers in the auto concern. Specifically, eight of the 11 in coverage recommend buying it. 

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