PANW Put Traders Hit the Exits After Earnings

PANW stock is back above its 200-day moving average

by Karee Venema

Published on Sep 5, 2019 at 10:21 AM

Palo Alto Networks Inc (NYSE:PANW) stock is soaring today, after the cybersecurity firm reported fiscal fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $1.47 per share on $805.8 million in revenue -- more than analysts were expecting. The company also forecast double-digit sales growth on strong demand for its cloud securtiy platform Prisma Access and stronger-than-estimated free cash flow through 2022.

Analyst reaction has been swift, though not all of the action has been bullish. While Evercore ISI and J.P. Morgan Securities raised their respective price targets to $300, price-target cuts came through at RBC (to $280) and BMO (to $245). More broadly, 23 of 28 analysts maintain a "buy" or better rating on PANW, while the average 12-month price  target of $264.18 is a 22.5% premium to current levels.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, options traders were bracing for another post-earnings drop for the cybersecurity stock. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), Palo Alto Networks stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.10 ranks in the 99th annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at an accelerated clip.

The weekly 9/6 185-strike put saw one of the biggest increases in open interest over this two-week time frame, and with PANW up 6.9% at $214.34, eyeing its first close north of the 200-day trendline since mid-August, it looks like traders may be liquidating their positions this morning. Amid heavy options volume -- roughly 14,000 contracts have traded already, 10 times what's typically seen at this point -- this weekly put is most active.

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