Will Baidu Inc's (BIDU) Earnings Boost Break Option Bears?

An earnings beat and a price-target hike have Baidu Inc (ADR) (BIDU) up over 9%

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Feb 26, 2016 at 11:31 AM

Among the stocks surging on earnings beats is Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU). At last check, the shares were 9.2% higher at $172.74, helped by a 33% jump in fourth-quarter revenue -- thanks largely to strength in its mobile advertising business. Also serving as an upward catalyst is Deutsche Bank's price-target hike to $226 from $220 -- territory not charted in over a year.

Amid these positive developments, BIDU option volume is through the roof, running at five times the average intraday rate. Eleventh-hour traders are especially active, as the weekly 2/26 strike accounts for eight of the 10 most popular options. Digging deeper, the weekly 2/26 175- and 180-strike calls are seeing some sell-to-open activity, as confirmed by International Securities Exchange (ISE) data -- suggesting these traders think BIDU's positive momentum will peter out prior to tonight's close, when the series expires.

Taking a step back, option traders have been downright bearish on Baidu in recent months. At the ISE, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has amassed a 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.95 -- just 6 percentage points from an annual high. Suffice it to say, these doubters could be feeling the heat today as BIDU rockets higher.

On the other hand, short sellers have been turning tail. During the last two reporting periods, short interest on BIDU fell over 25%, and now makes up just 2% of its float -- an amount that would take roughly one session to cover, at typical daily volumes.

Technically speaking, Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) is set to close above its 50-day moving average for the first time since late December. However, the shares have also run into resistance at their 200-day trendline, which rejected previous advances during the first half of 2015.

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