Bearish Traders Pay Up to Bet Against SunPower Corporation (SPWR)

Underperforming solar stock SunPower Corporation (SPWR) was hit with a steep price-target cut from Mizuho today

Celeste Taylor
Jan 31, 2017 at 3:40 PM
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SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) has been an abysmal performer on the charts for quite a while, and today's fall isn't doing the shares any favors. This morning, Mizuho slashed its price target on the stock to $8 from $25, citing "downturn in the industry and limited visibility into the future," with a potential second-half recovery "in the hands of Congress as it contemplates tax reform (including renewables incentives)." SPWR is now down nearly 75% year-over-year, and option players are placing their bets on a continued downside.

In the option pits, near-term speculators are especially put-skewed, with SPWR's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.76 sitting in the 70th percentile of its annual range. Further reinforcing the skeptical slant toward SPWR is the stock's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility skew of 42%, which registers in the 99th annual percentile, according to Trade-Alert -- which means puts are more expensive now, relative to calls, than almost any other time during the past year.

Elsewhere, short interest on the solar stock is up 9.3% over the last two reporting periods. Shorted shares now account for 31.7% of SPWR's float, which would take over five days to cover, at SPWR's average daily volume. Adding to the pessimism surrounding SPWR, 14 of 17 analysts rate the shares a "hold" or worse -- including Mizuho, which backed its "neutral" rating in today's note.

From a technical standpoint, SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR) has been trending lower for quite some time, pressured by resistance at its 50-day and 80-day moving averages. Today, the shares are trading down 0.2% at $6.41, near their 2016 lows of $6. This level could potentially serve as a foothold for the shares, especially considering the abundant negativity already priced into SPWR -- a small ray of hope amid an otherwise cloudy outlook for the solar power stock.

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