AutoZone Stock Drops Despite Earnings Beat

The options pits have been consistently bearish

Digital Content Manager
Dec 8, 2020 at 11:14 AM
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The shares of AutoZone, Inc. (NYSE:AZO) are down 5.8% at $1,089.99 this morning, despite the car parts and accessories retailer reporting fiscal first-quarter earnings of $18.61 per share, significantly higher than Wall Street's estimates of $17.77 per share. The company attributed the positive results to a 12.3% increase in same-store sales, though investors probably wanted to see a bigger jump in order to be confident in the security's ability to hold onto these gains. 

On the charts, AutoZone stock has nearly doubled off its March lows over the past few months. The equity surged all the way to the $1,260 level in September, just shy of last year's all-time-high of $1,274.40. Shares have been cooling off since then, however, with today's drop contending with the 200-day moving average, which has contained all of the stock's pullbacks since May. Longer term, AZO carries a 7.2% year-to-date deficit.

Analysts are mostly optimistic toward the security, with 11 of the 16 in coverage sporting a "buy" or better rating, and the remaining five a tepid "hold." Plus, the stock's 12-month consensus target of $1,383.65 is a roughly 27% premium to current levels. 

Over in the options pits, sentiment has been significantly more bearish. This is per the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.33 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), which sits higher than 94% of readings from the past year. In simpler terms, puts are being picked up at a quicker-than-usual clip.  

That pessimism still rings true today. Over 1,000 puts and 900 calls have crossed the tape in just the first hour of trading, which is eight times the average intraday amount. Most popular is the weekly 12/11 1,107.50 strike-call, followed closely by the 1,040 strike-put in the same series, with positions currently being opened at both.

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