Can Pitney Bowes Inc. (PBI) Deliver After Labor Day?

Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE:PBI) has historically been the best-performing S&P 500 Index (SPX) stock during Labor Day week

by Celeste Taylor

Published on Sep 2, 2016 at 12:40 PM

Pitney Bowes Inc. (NYSE:PBI) has historically enjoyed a standout Labor Day week, ending positive 90% of the time over the past decade, according to Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. In fact, its average return of 2.4% during the holiday-shortened week is the best among all S&P 500 Index (SPX) stocks -- and recent options buyers could be hoping for a breakout. 

PBI has been trending downward for the past two years, and rebound attempts have repeatedly stalled at its 10-month and 20-month moving averages. The $21.50-$22 mark has also emerged as a speed bump since June 2015. Still, the shares seem to have found a foothold at the $16-$17 mark. At last check, PBI was down 0.2% at $18.90.

160902PBI

 

Today, PBI calls are hot, with call volume on pace for the 98th percentile of its annual range. Calls are trading at 17 times their usual intraday rate, although on an absolute basis, PBI option volume is incredibly low. So far, 477 calls have crossed the line today, with only five puts seen. Leading the charge is the January 2017 20-strike call, which has seen buy-to-open action, indicating option buyers expect PBI to finish above the $20 mark by expiration in January.

On the sentiment side, today's appetite for long calls is just more of the same. PBI's 50-day call/put volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) of 3.68 sits higher than 82% of all other readings from the past 52 weeks, indicating an inflated appetite for bullish bets, although again, volume is low on an absolute basis.

However, some of this action  could be short sellers hedging, with short interest up 12.6% over the last reporting period, and shorted shares now accounting for 7% of PBI's float. At PBI's average daily volume, it would take over nine days of trading to cover these bearish bets.

Whatever the reason for the bullish bets, nea-term option players are getting a relative bargain. Pitney Bowes Inc.'s (NYSE:PBI) Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 20% sits lower than 96% of all other readings from the past year, indicating near-term option traders are
pricing in relatively minimal volatility expectations. Plus, the stock's 30-day at-the-money (ATM) implied volatility (IV) hit a 12-month low today.  

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