Bed Bath & Beyond Holds Above Key Support During Sell-Off

Nervous BBBY shareholders may have hedged with put options

by Karee Venema

Published on Apr 11, 2019 at 10:11 AM
Updated on Apr 11, 2019 at 10:42 AM

The shares of Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY) are slumping this morning, after the home furnishings retailer reported a wider-than-anticipated 1.4% drop in same-store sales for the fiscal fourth quarter. BBBY also said current-quarter per-share profit will arrive between 7 cents and 12 cents, well below the consensus 29 cents per share estimate. All of this is offsetting a quarterly profit beat, with the retail stock down 11.6% at $17.15.

Analysts have been quick to weigh in after Bed Bath & Beyond earnings, and the reaction has been mixed. Telsey Advisory Group raised its price target by $2 to $20, saying the recent involvement of activist investors could support the shares in the near term, while Wedbush hiked its target price by $5 to $19. Jefferies and Loop Capital, meanwhile, maintained their "hold" ratings, with the latter calling BBBY a "show me story."

Options traders were positioning for a post-earnings plunge, with BBBY's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.91 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) ranking in the 92nd annual percentile. This means that puts have been bought to open over calls at an accelerated clip in recent weeks.

Drilling down, the April 17 put saw the biggest increase in open interest over this two-week time frame, and data points to mostly buy-to-open activity here. This would imply put buyers expect BBBY to breach $17 by front-month options expiration at the close next Thursday, April 18.

However, considering this level -- which previously marked BBBY's highs in mid- to late February -- has served as support since a late-March bull gap, some of this put buying may have been at the hands of shareholders protecting paper profits with protective puts. In fact, Bed Bath & Beyond shares tagged a seven-month high of $19.57 yesterday, and were boasting a 71.5% year-to-date gain heading into today's trading.

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