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Cutting Back on Meds

November 28, 2022

Medical-device maker Medtronic (MDT) reported earnings this week that hardly impressed the Street. Quarterly sales and earnings fell from a year earlier, with revenue falling short of analyst expectations while profits met projections. The company also cut its full-year guidance, citing the usual supply-chain disruptions and a slower recovery in medical procedures postponed due to the pandemic.

MDT’s report was met with a couple of downgrades along with a heavy dose of target price declines. Nevertheless, the average price target sits above $94, about 19% higher than Friday’s close. That leaves room for more price target cutbacks.

The stock price has been sliding from more than a year, falling 42% from a record high reached in Sep. 2021. Since April, MDT has displayed a pattern of lower highs and lows with the 50-day moving average keeping a lid on brief rallies. The 50-day currently sits at $83, which is also the strike of the short call in our credit spread. This trade is thus based on the current downtrend continuing, with the declining 50-day providing resistance and keeping our spread out of the money.

If you agree that MDT will continue to trade beneath the 50-day moving average (blue line), consider the following trade that relies on the stock staying below $83 (red line) through expiration in six weeks:

Buy to Open the MDT 6 Jan 85 call (MDT230106C85)
Sell to Open the MDT 6 Jan 83 call (MDT230106C83) for a credit of $0.40 (selling a vertical)

This credit is $0.03 less than the mid-point price of the spread at Friday’s $79.12 close. Unless MDT falls quickly, you should be able to get close to that price.

The commission on this trade should be no more than $1.30 per spread. Each spread would then yield $38.70. This trade reduces your buying power by $200, making your net investment $161.30 per spread ($200 – $38.70). If MDT closes below $83 on Jan. 6, both options will expire worthless and your return on the spread would be 24% ($38.70/$161.30). 

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