Opening View: Futures Flirt with Breakeven, But History Is on the Bulls' Side

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Stocks notched their first win of the week on Wednesday, thanks to a rebound in the commodities pits and easing concerns about European debt. In pre-market action this morning, buyers are standing on the sidelines ahead of the government's revised estimate of first-quarter gross domestic product ( GDP ), which will likely determine the initial direction on the Street. In the meantime, traders are digesting the latest round of corporate earnings reports, with Tiffany ( TIF ) and H.J. Heinz (HNZ) among the companies in the spotlight. At last check, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA ) is trading about 8.7 points below fair value -- however, history is on the bulls' side. As we noted in this week's edition of Monday Morning Outlook , Thursday tends to be the strongest day of the pre-Memorial Day week.

Dow, S&P and Nasdaq futures

In equities news, NetApp (NTAP - 51.73) banked a fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $160.6 million, or 40 cents per share, up from its year-ago earnings of $145.1 million. On an adjusted basis, NTAP's profit weighed in at 59 cents per share, while revenue rose 22% to $1.43 billion. Analysts, on average, were expecting a profit of 53 cents per share on $1.39 billion in revenue. Looking ahead, NTAP predicted first-quarter earnings of 52 cents to 57 cents per share, with revenue expected to arrive somewhere around $1.5 billion, plus or minus 3%. Consensus estimates on Wall Street were calling for a profit of 50 cents per share on $1.51 billion in revenue. At last check, NTAP is up 2.9%.

Elsewhere, Guess Inc. (GES - 40.10) reported first-quarter earnings of $42.7 million, or 46 cents per share, down 15% from its year-ago profit of $50.3 million, or 54 cents per share. Sales for the quarter improved 10% to $592 million. The results comfortably surpassed analysts' expectations for a profit of 44 cents per share on $567.7 million in revenue. GES said it's expecting a second-quarter profit of 77 cents to 83 cents per share, encompassing Wall Street's forecast of 79 cents per share. Ahead of the bell, GES has skyrocketed more than 12%.

Moving on, Tiffany (TIF - 70.04) reported a first-quarter profit of $81.1 million, or 63 cents per share, marking a 26% increase from the year-ago quarter. Excluding items, the high-end jeweler earned 67 cents per share, while sales jumped 20% to $761 million. Analysts, on average, were anticipating an adjusted profit of 57 cents per share on revenue of $704 million. Looking ahead, TIF upped its full-year profit outlook by 10 cents per share, to a range of $3.45 to $3.55. In pre-market trading, TIF is up nearly 4%.

Finally, H.J. Heinz (HNZ - 53.39) said fourth-quarter earnings rose a year-over-year 16% to $223.9 million, or 69 cents per share, falling shy of expectations for a per-share profit of 72 cents. Revenue increased 6% to $2.89 billion, compared to analysts' projections for sales of $2.88 billion. The company's board also raised its quarterly dividend by 6.7% to $1.92 per share, but forecast full-year earnings in a range of $3.24 to $3.32 per share -- below the Street's consensus estimate for a profit of $3.33 per share. At last look, HNZ is poised to open with a 1.2% gain.

Earnings Preview

Today's earnings docket will feature reports from Big Lots ( BIG ), Blue Coat Systems ( BCSI ), Marvell Technology ( MRVL ), and OmniVision Technologies (OVTI), just to name a few. Keep your browser at SchaeffersResearch.com for more news as it breaks.

Economic Calendar

Today, the Commerce Department will issue its first-quarter GDP revision, while the Labor Department will release the latest data on weekly jobless claims. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Fed will unveil its manufacturing index for May. The economic schedule wraps up on Friday, with reports due out on personal incomes and spending, pending home sales for April, and the final Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for May.

Market Statistics

Equity option activity on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) saw 1,153,285 call contracts traded on Wednesday, compared to 577,444 put contracts. The resultant single-session put/call ratio docked at 0.50 -- the lowest since Feb. 25 -- while the 21-day moving average remained at 0.65.

NYSE and Nasdaq summary

Volatility indices

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Overseas Trading

Stocks in Asia ended mostly higher today, with energy stocks catching a lift from crude oil's rebound. In Japan, Canon enjoyed a robust rally after announcing plans for a stock buyback plan worth up to 50 billion yen, while Sony shares edged higher ahead of the company's post-close earnings report. Automakers continued to rev higher in Korea, with Hyundai and Kia extending their recent bout of strength. However, stocks in Beijing slipped to a four-month nadir, with small caps leading a late-session sell-off. By the close, South Korea's Kospi rose 2.8%, Japan's Nikkei added 1.5%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng tacked on 0.7%, and China's Shanghai Composite gave up 0.2%.

European markets are mixed at midday. A poorly received earnings report from Burberry sparked weakness in fellow luxury retailers, as traders panned the company's lackluster margin forecast. Tire titan Michelin rose in Paris, buoyed by an upgrade at J.P. Morgan Cazenove, even as automakers across the region struggled. In Frankfurt, Bayer lost ground after a Citigroup downgrade to "sell," but Commerzbank AG moved higher after Fitch Ratings offered a vote of confidence for German banks. At last check, London's FTSE 100 is up 0.4%, the French CAC 40 is about 0.2% higher, and the German DAX has dipped 0.2%.

Overseas markets

Currencies and Commodities

The greenback has continued its retreat, with the U.S. dollar index down about 0.5%. Elsewhere, after cruising to a new two-week high on Wednesday, black gold has lost some ground ahead of the bell. At last check, the front-month crude contract is down $0.74, or 0.7%, at $100.58 per barrel. Meanwhile, gold futures have also pulled back in pre-market trading, with the front-month contract surrendering $6.80, or 0.5%, to trade at $1,519.90 an ounce. In the same vein, silver futures have backpedaled $0.82, or 2.2%, to flirt with $36.82 an ounce.

Currencies and commodities

Unusual Put and Call Activity:

For an explanation of how to use this information, check out our Education Center topics on Option Volume and Open Interest Configurations .

Unusual options activity - puts

Unusual options activity - calls

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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: BCSI , BIG , GDP , MRVL , TIF

Schaeffer's Investment Research

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