Why BAML is Buying Red-Hot American Express Stock

AXP has seen a bevy of bullish brokerage attention this week

Jun 19, 2019 at 9:52 AM
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American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) stock is trading near record-high territory, after Bank of America-Merrill Lynch initiated coverage with a "buy" rating and $145 price target -- a 17.5% premium to last night's close at $123.43. The brokerage firm called out several potential positive catalysts, including the lower interest rates and business-to-business and global growth opportunities, and said AXP's profit-and-loss algorithm is "undervalued."

This is just the latest in a string of bull notes for the Dow stock, with Jefferies and Sandler O'Neill hiking their AXP price targets earlier this week. There's room for more upbeat analyst attention to come through on the outperformer, too, considering 10 brokerages maintain a lukewarm "hold" rating, and the average 12-month price target sits just above current levels at $124.43.

Options traders, meanwhile, have been unusually bullish toward American Express stock. At the International Securities Exchange (IS), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the equity's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 1.46 ranks in the 86th annual percentile, meaning calls have been bought to open over puts at an accelerated clip.

On the charts, AXP shares have made a beeline higher since bottoming near $89 in late December, up 39%. The equity topped out at a record high of $125.05 yesterday, and is one of the best Dow stock's year-to-date, second only to Microsoft (MSFT) heading into today's trading. At last check, American Express is up 0.4% at $123.89.

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