Tobacco Stock Up Despite FDA Seizure Warning

The FDA is looking into a potential link between Juul pods and seizures

Managing Editor
Apr 4, 2019 at 10:27 AM
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Tobacco name Altria Group Inc (NYSE:MO) has been in hot water this week as it  manages the fallout over a troubling warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yesterday, the FDA reported a potential link between e-cigarettes and an increased risk of seizures for some users. Today Jefferies chimed in, noting that, while somewhat unlikely, the FDA investigation could lead to the suspension of concentrated nicotine pods such as JUUL. 

At last check, Altria stock was up 1.2% to trade at $54.56, shaking off the risks for the time being. The shares gapped lower by 4.8% yesterday after the FDA report went public, breaching their 20-day moving average for the first time since a late-January rally. Year-to-date, MO has added 10%. 

Analyst sentiment has been quite sunny. Of the 14 brokerages covering MO, nine rate it a "buy" or better. Options traders, on the other hand, have remained committed to their put-buying ways. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), shows the security with a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.55. This ratio ranks in the elevated 77th percentile of its annual range, which means puts have been bought to open over calls at a faster-than-usual clip during the past two weeks of trading.

What's more, the stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) stands at an 80 out of a possible 100. This shows the security has tended to make outsized moves over the last year, compared to what the options market had priced in -- a potential boon to premium buyers.

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