Monday, March 11, 2013

Analyst Downgrades: Apple Inc. (AAPL), NVIDIA Corporation, and Intuit Inc.

Analysts are weighing in today on tech heavyweight Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL - 431.72), computer video chip maker NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA - 12.82), and accounting/tax software producer Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ:INTU - 67.75). Here's a quick roundup of today's bearish brokerage notes.
  • CSLA cut its rating on tech giant AAPL to "outperform" from "buy" this morning, with the stock trading at near annual lows having lost 38.8% since hitting its all-time intraday high of $705.07 on Sept. 21. AAPL has been hit with multiple downgrades in the past few months as its shares have fallen, but there still remain 29 analysts rating the stock a "strong buy," compared with four "buys" and six "holds." Option trading sentiment is mixed, however. The Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) is at 0.54, which ranks near the lowest of similar readings taken in the last 12 months -- indicating a strong preference for short-term calls recently. But the 10-day put/call volume ratio on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) is 0.66, and that ranks in the 68th percentile, signaling traders have shown a stronger preference for puts in recent weeks.

  • NVDA has been treading water recently after a late-fall swoon that saw the chip maker give up 24.8% between early August and mid-November. The stock's subsequent lackluster growth may have prompted Susquehanna cut its rating to "negative" from "neutral." And option traders appear to agree with this bearish outlook. While the 10-day put/call volume ratio on the ISE/CBOE/PHLX is relatively low at 0.37, that still ranks in the 77th percentile of similar data collected within in the last year. Simply stated, that indicates a higher-than-normal preference for puts recently.

  • Tax authorities from the state of Minnesota recently warned citizens there not to use products from INTU such as TurboTax to file their taxes due the possibility of bugs and misfiles. And today, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch downgraded INTU shares to "neutral" from "buy." This comes even though INTU is trading at or near annual highs, having picked up 10.1% since Feb. 8. Short-term option traders appear to agree. The ISE/CBOE/PHLX 10-day put/call volume ratio is 1.82, and that is in the top 8% of comparable annual readings -- meaning traders have been buying puts over calls at a very accelerated clip as of late.

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