Auto Stock Notches Record High After Earnings

The chip shortage boosted first-quarter profits

Assistant Editor
Apr 20, 2021 at 10:51 AM
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The shares of AutoNation Inc (NYSE:AN) are down 2.6% to trade at $95.02 at last check, after earlier hitting an all-time-high of $99.78. The company reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and revenue, with profits nearly tripling in comparison to last year. Plus, the auto name cited higher earnings per vehicle, amid production cuts and price raises forced by the global chip shortage. Lastly, CEO Mike Jackson said higher demand is expected to continue throughout the year.

Today's fresh record is the culmination of an impressive 214.1% year-over-year gain. Shares recently bounced off the $90 level, though the security has been notching all-time-highs on a monthly basis since December, with support from the 40-day moving average. 

There is still plenty of room for optimism among analysts, with only two of the nine in coverage sporting a "strong buy" rating, while the remaining seven carried a tepid "hold" or worse. Meanwhile, short interest represents 5.5% of the security's available float, or four days' worth of pent-up buying power. 

A shift in the options pits could send AutoNation stock higher, too. The stock's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 1.54 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) stands higher than 86% of readings from the past year. In other words, long puts are being picked up at a faster-than-usual rate. 

That shift seems to be already happening today. Amid low absolute volume, 528 calls have exchanged hands so far, which is five times what is typically seen at this point. The most popular is the May 100 call, followed by the 105 call in the same monthly series.

These options are attractively priced at the moment, too. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 40% stands higher than 14% of readings in its annual range, implying that options players are pricing in low volatility expectations at the moment. Plus, AN's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) stands at an elevated 82 out of 100, meaning the security has exceeded these expectations during the past 12 months.

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