Hershey Co (HSY) Skeptics Double Down Despite Earnings Beat

Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) options traders are betting against the stock in the weeks ahead

by Josh Selway

Published on Oct 28, 2016 at 2:39 PM
Updated on Oct 28, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Chocolate giant Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) is rallying after the company earlier today posted better-than-expected third-quarter profits and raised its outlook. At last check, HSY stock was up 7.4% at $102.55, on pace for its best finish since its June M&A buzz burn out. Not unusual for a post-earnings session, HSY options volume is also running wild today. 

At last check, HSY options were trading at six times what's normally seen at this point in the day. The most popular option overall is the November 105 call, where it looks like traders may be selling to open new positions. If so, they are essentially betting on the $105 level acting as a short-term ceiling for HSY shares through the option's expiration, at the close on Friday, Nov. 18.

Negativity doesn't appear to be anything new in HSY's options pits. For example, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.62 ranks just 2 percentage points from an annual high. Said simply, short-term options traders are far more put-skewed than normal. 

From a contrarian standpoint, however, it would seem HSY stock could be set to run higher in the weeks ahead. Most notably, 11 out of the 12 covering brokerage firms give Hershey just a "hold" or "sell" rating. Considering that strong earnings reports are often met with a round of positive analyst attention, it wouldn't be surprising to see some upgrades from the analyst bunch in the near future, which could provide a boost for HSY. 

What's more, there was an influx in short interest ahead of the company's earnings release, with this figure rising by a whopping 54% in the last two-week period alone. If these bears make a quick exit following today's upbeat report, this short-covering action could also create tailwinds for HSY shares. 

Furthermore, it's not as though Hershey Co (NYSE:HSY) was a slouch on the charts coming into today's event. Going back five years, HSY stock has climbed 78%, and more recently fought its way back atop the rising 200-day moving average -- a previous level of support. Not to mention, the demand for chocolate doesn't appear to be lacking this Halloween season. 

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