BABA Sinks on Prospects of Record-Breaking Regulatory Fines

Analysts are still holding out hope for the security, however

Deputy Editor
Mar 12, 2021 at 10:49 AM
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The shares of China-based tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) are sliding this morning, down 4% at $231.35 at last check, following news of a potentially record-breaking fine from Chinese antitrust regulators. These regulators are pressuring BABA to distance itself from founder Jack Ma, and strengthen ties with the Communist Party. According to reports, this fine could top the $975 million one Qualcomm (QCOM) paid in 2015. Additionally, Simon Hu, head of Alibaba spinoff company Ant Group, has resigned as part of a regulatory revamp following the company's failed initial public offering (IPO). 

The drama Alibaba has been engulfed in over the past couple months has impacted the stock's performance. The security has dropped nearly 30% from its Oct. 27 record high of $319.32, due to several massive bear gaps. And while BABA bounced off the $210 level in late-December, quickly closing the bear gap it suffered earlier that month, it hit resistance at its 120-day moving average. Now, the equity is headed back toward its December lows. 

Analysts have maintained their optimism, though. Of the 19 in coverage, 18 call it a "buy" or better. Plus, the 12-month consensus price target of $325.86 is a 41.2% premium to current levels. 

Option traders have also taken a bullish stance. During the past 10 weeks, 2.89 calls have been picked up for every put at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio stands higher than 74% of readings from the past 12 months, suggesting a healthier-than-usual appetite for long calls of late. 

Today's options activity is no different, with 75,000 calls across the tape so far -- double the intraday average -- compared to just 30,000 puts. The monthly March 250 call is the most popular, followed by the 255 call in the same series. 

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