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Thursday’s Vital Data: Apple Inc. (AAPL), Groupon Inc (GRPN) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY)

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U.S. stock futures are feeling the heat this morning, and Wall Street is set to take a breather following the longest record-setting winning streak in nearly 25 years. All three of the major market indices are up, on average, 1.6% so far this week, driven by positive economic data, President Donald Trump's promises for a massive tax plan and Fed Chair Janet Yellen's hints at a March interest rate hike. The euphoria has some analysts saying the market has come too far too fast.

As a result, futures on the S&P 500 are down 0.17% heading into the open, followed by Dow Jones Industrial Average futures, off 0.15%, and Nasdaq-100 futures, which have shed a mere 0.02% at last check.

On the options front, volume surged to a near-term high on Wednesday, as roughly 20.5 million calls and 16.7 million puts changed hands on the session. Over on the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio ticked higher to 0.58, while the 10-day moving average edged lower to another one-month low of 0.65.

Turning to Wednesday's volume leaders, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL ) overtook Samsung as the No. 1 smartphone seller in the fourth quarter, though it took quite a bit of effort to get there. Elsewhere, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE: BMY ) rallied for a second straight session amid heavy call options volume and rumors of a potential takeover bid. Finally, Groupon Inc (NASDAQ: GRPN ) posted stronger-than-expected earnings and revealed that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE: BABA ) has taken a 5.7% stake in the company.

Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Apple is once again back at the top of the smartphone market, according to the latest data from Gartner Research . Apple sold 77 million smartphones in the quarter, edging out Samsung's 76.8 million units sold. While the headline is impressive, it took headline-news-worthy battery issues for Samsung's Galaxy S7 and the withdrawal of the Galaxy Note 7 from store shelves to boost Apple into the top spot.

For AAPL options traders, however, a win is a win. The stock saw volume soar to 1.35 million contracts on Wednesday, with calls snapping up an above average 65% of the day's take. But not everyone has bought into the AAPL hype, as the March put/call open interest ratio of 1.44 ranks near the upper echelons of its annual range, with puts easily outnumbering calls among options set to expire within the next month.

Peak put OI for the month totals 41,000 contracts at the March $130 strike, with another 32,000 open at the $100 strike.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY)

Rumors tend to emerge in the wake of product failures - a situation that is especially true in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical markets. Bristol-Myers stock has shed some 30% in the past several months after reporting that a promising cancer drug had failed to meet its endpoints in clinical trials. The company's weakness has spawned rumors that that Roche, Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE: NVS ), and Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE ) are actively exploring a BMY takeover , with Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD ) also said to be considering a deal.

BMY stock has surged nearly 6% in the past two days on the potential for a buyout offer, sending options traders scrambling to speculation on such a deal. On Wednesday, BMY saw near-term high volume of 232,000 contracts, wherein calls accounted for 77% of the day's take.

The attention has driven BMY's March put/call open interest ratio sharply lower to rest at 0.44, with calls more than doubling puts in the series, versus a February ratio just north of 0.90. What's more, peak March call OI rests at the well-overhead $60 strike, totaling more than 40,000 contracts. A takeover deal could reward these brave call traders, but no deal could see the shares plummet back below $50.

Groupon Inc (GRPN)

After backsliding 6% in the past three months, GRPN stock roared more than 23% higher yesterday following an impressive earnings report. For the quarter, Groupon said it earned seven cents per share on revenue of $934.9 million, compared to expectations for a profit of three cents per share on revenue of $913 million.

Furthermore, GRPN said Alibaba has taken a passive 5.7% stake in the company, which is notable since Alibaba has expressed interest in acquiring Groupon.

Options volume on GRPN was quite bullish following the news. Calls flooded into the stock, making up a whopping 83% of the more than 212,000 contracts traded yesterday. GRPN is set to close out the week north of $4.50, placing the stock well above peak Feb call OI of 14,000 contracts at the $4 strike. Resistance is tough in the $5 region, however, and GRPN could see some consolidation following yesterday's pop higher.

As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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The post Thursday's Vital Data: Apple Inc. (AAPL), Groupon Inc (GRPN) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY) appeared first on InvestorPlace .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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