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5 Earnings Short-Squeeze Plays

Lululemon Athletica

Another potential earnings short-squeeze trade idea is designer and retailer of technical athletic apparel Lululemon Athletica (LULU), which is set to release its numbers on Thursday before the market open. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Lululemon Athletica to report revenue $343.10 million on earnings of 35 cents per share.

Just recently, Citi analyst Oliver Chen started coverage on shares of Lululemon Athletica with a buy rating and a $90 per share price target. He said the company's sales productivity is at $2,000 per square foot, vs. Michael Kors at $1,500, Coach at $1,800 and Tumi that is above $1,200. Chen thinks Lululemon ales can reach $3,000 per square foot, as LULU gains brand recognition and expands from current 60% penetration in the U.S.

The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Lululemon Athletica is extremely high at 20%. That means that out of the 133.71 million shares in the tradable float, 20.81 million shares are sold short by the bears. The bears have also been increasing their bets from the last reporting period by 7.5%, or by about 1.45 million shares. If the bears get caught pressing their bets into a bullish quarter, then shares of LULU could explode higher post-earnings as the bears rush to cover some of their short bets.

From a technical perspective, LULU is currently trending above its 50-day moving average and just below its 200-day moving average, which is neutral trendwise. This stock has been trending sideways for the last month and change, with shares moving between $74.75 on the upside and $67.70 on the downside. A high-volume move above the upper-end of its recent range could trigger a big breakout trade for LULU post-earnings.

If you're in the bull camp on LULU, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this manages to break out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $72.71 to $72.82 a share and then once it clears more resistance at $74.75 a share high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average action of 3.34 million shares. If that breakout triggers, then LULU will set up to re-fill some of its previous gap down zone from June that started at $82.50 a share.

I would simply avoid LULU or look for short-biased trades if after earnings it fails to trigger that breakout, and then drops back below its 50-day at $69.29 a share and then once it takes out more key near-term support at $68.50 to $67.60 a share with high volume. If we get that move, then LULU will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major support levels a $63 to $62 a share.

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