Analysts Pick Favorites in Discount Retail Sector

Evercore is more bullish on DLTR than DG

Managing Editor
Mar 20, 2019 at 10:22 AM
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Evercore ISI has had a busy morning weighing in on the retail sector. The brokerage firm initiated coverage on Dollar Tree, Inc. (NASDAQ:DLTR) with an "in-line" rating and $105 price target. In addition, Telsey Advisory Group upgraded DLTR to "outperform" from "market perform," while boosting its price target to $117 from $103, following an encouraging meeting with management. The analyst in coverage sees the remodeling of the company's Family Dollar business as a growth driver going forward.

Amidst all of this attention, Dollar Tree stock is up 0.4% to trade at $101.66 this morning, a chip-shot off its March 12 annual high of $104.49. A pullback to start March was quickly contained by the shares' 50-day moving average, and DLTR is now up nearly 13% in 2019. 

There's been skepticism among options traders, judging by the Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.28, which ranks in the 100th percentile of its annual range. This shows a much stronger-than-usual put-skew among near-term options open interest.

Those wanting to speculate on Dollar Tree's short-term trajectory should consider options. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 20% sits in the relatively low 3rd percentile of its annual range. This implies that near-term options are attractively priced at the moment, from a historical volatility perspective. 

Evercore wasn't done, though. It also initiated coverage on Dollar General Corp. (NYSE:DG) with an "underperform" rating and $100 price target. This has DG down 0.6% to trade at $116.56, at last check.

Following a record high of $121.27 on March 13, the stock promptly gapped lower in the wake of a dismal quarterly report and full-year guidance. However, the damage was contained by the shares' 120-day moving average, as DG has pared most of its post-earnings losses.

The options setup for DG is the exact opposite of sector peer Dollar Tree. DG's SOIR of 0.47 registers in the 4th percentile of its annual range. This suggests near-term options traders are much more call-heavy than usual right now. 

It's an attractive time to purchase premium on short-term DG options, too. The stock's SVI of 18% ranks in the 2nd percentile of its 12-month range, indicating near-term contracts are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment.

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