One potential earnings short-squeeze trade in the computer services complex is Athenahealth (ATHN), which is set to release numbers on Thursday after the market close. This company provides ongoing billing, clinical-related, and other related services to medical group practices primarily in the U.S. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Athenahelath to report revenue of $103.79 million on earnings of 23 cents per share.
This company met Wall Street estimates last quarter after beating estimates in the prior two quarters. During the first quarter, Athenahealth reported a profit of 8 cents per share vs. Wall Street estimates of 8 cents per share. Revenue in the first quarter jumped 38.1% to $96.6 million from $69.9 million. This company is looking to register its fifth straight quarter of double-digit revenue growth. Athenahealth has averaged year-over-year revenue growth of 34.3% over the last four quarters.The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Athenahealth is extremely high at 22.5%. That means that out of the 35.15 million shares in the tradable float, 7.85 million shares are sold short by the bears. Any solid earnings news out of this company could easily set off a large short-squeeze, since the short interest is so high and the float is very low. From a technical perspective, ATHN is currently trading above both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which is bullish. This stock has been uptrending strong for the past six months, with shares soaring from a low of $55.10 to a recent high of $87.16 a share. During that uptrend, shares of ATHN have been consistently making higher lows and higher highs, which is bullish technical price action. During the past month, shares of ATHN have been trading range bound from $79.50 to $84.58 a share. A move outside of that range post-earnings should setup the next major trend for ATHN. If you're in the bull camp on ATHN, then I would look for long-biased trades after earnings if this stock manages to trigger a near-term breakout above overhead resistance at $84.58 a share with high-volume. Look for volume on that move that registers near or above its three-month average action of 449,376 shares. If we get that move, then I would add to any long positions once ATHN takes out its 52-week high of $87.16 a share with high volume. I would simply avoid ATHN or look for short-biased trades after earnings the stock fails to trigger that breakout, and then moves back below its 50-day moving average of $77.53 a share, and then below some more near-term support at $76.19 a share with heavy volume. If we get that action, then ATHN could easily drop towards its next major support zones at $71 to $69.34 a share, or possibly even toward its 200-day moving average of $66.33 a share.
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