Morgan Stanley Slaps Caterpillar with Pre-Earnings Downgrade

Bearish traders have been blasting CAT stock recently, too

Oct 18, 2019 at 9:49 AM
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Morgan Stanley downgraded Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) to "equal weight" from "overweight," and cut its price target to $145 from $150, citing "increasing downside risks" to several of the company's key segments, including construction, energy and transportation. The brokerage firm also expressed concern over swollen dealer inventory  "fully offset these risks."

On the charts, CAT stock has been muscling higher since its early October lows near $118. However, today's bear note has the security down 2% out of the gate to trade at $129.99, testing a newfound foothold atop its 200-day trendline. Just below here is the equity's year-to-date breakeven mark at $127.07.

Skepticism has been growing in other corners of the Street, too. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), Caterpillar stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.01 ranks in the 87th annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at a quicker-than-usual clip.

Plus, short interest is up 6.4% in the two most recent reporting periods to 8.94 million shares. The bearish bandwagon is far from full, though, considering this represents just 1.6% of CAT's available float, or 2.2 times the stock's average daily pace of trading.

Looking ahead, Caterpillar earnings are due ahead of the open next Wednesday, Oct. 23. The Dow stock has a dismal history of earnings reactions, and has closed lower the day after the company reports in the last six quarters, averaging a loss of 5.4%.

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