Bears Pounce on Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO)

Option traders have been upping the bearish ante on YHOO

Jan 4, 2016 at 2:57 PM
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Internet concern Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) has been taking heat from shareholders over the past few months, particularly since the company abandoned its plan to spin off its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA). As investors grow wary of CEO Marissa Mayer -- and even suggest new candidates for her job -- suitors have been eagerly expressing interest in buying the company's core business, which is being spun off. Activist hedge fund Starboard Value has pushed the envelope by allegedly informing YHOO of its plans to nominate its own replacement board. Today, the shares have dropped a hefty 5.5% to trade at $31.42.

After losing more than one-third of its value in 2015, YHOO is no stranger to bearish attention. During the last two reporting periods, short interest on the stock increased by 24% to account for nearly 7% of its total available float.

Option traders have also upped the bearish ante. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security sports a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.39 -- higher than 96% of the past year's readings. Today's action in the option pits concurs -- puts are crossing the tape at 1.5 times their usual intraday rate, and outpacing calls. The intraday put/call volume ratio of 1.26 stands higher than 92% of all other readings from the past 12 months.

Further downside could be ahead for YHOO, should analysts change their tune. Of the 29 brokerages following the stock, 20 still rate it a "buy" or better, without a single "sell" in sight. And the 12-month consensus price target of $42.72 sits at a level not seen since last June. Should Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) find itself on the receiving end of analyst downgrades and/or price-target cuts -- or should more C-suite drama ensue -- the shares could be headed toward new lows.


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