by Option Review - December 14th, 2011 2:35 pm
Today’s tickers: AVP, FSLR & GLD
AVP - Avon Products, Inc. – Investors cheered news that the beauty products seller will seek a replacement for its current CEO next year, sending shares in Avon Products up as much as 11.1% to $17.93 at the start of the trading session. The purchase of 10,000 calls at the July 2012 $20 strike on a 33 delta may at first glance appear to be the work of a bullish investor gearing up for shares in the cosmetics seller to extend gains. However, the long calls were tied to short stock, indicating the trader responsible is bearish on Avon and hoping to profit from a pullback in the price of the underlying. The investor sold 330,000 shares of AVP stock at $17.40 this morning and bought the calls, thereby synthetically buying long puts to benefit from share price erosion.
FSLR - First Solar, Inc. – Options activity suggests the end of this week may be even uglier for First Solar shareholders who saw the price of the stock tank today after the company again cut its earnings and revenue forecasts for 2011. Shares in the largest U.S. solar company are currently trading at their lowest since 2007, down 20.0% on the day at $33.98 as of 12:15 PM in New York. The stock has dropped more than 80.0% off the February 18, 2011, two-year high of $175.45. December expiry call and put trading on First Solar indicates investors are expecting the sell-off to continue through the end of the trading week and expiration. Bears purchased in- and out-of-the-money puts to prepare for further share price erosion in the next few days. Strategists positioning for the stock to sink to fresh lows picked up 1,600 puts at the Dec. $33 strike this morning for an average premium of $0.78 each.…
by Option Review - November 14th, 2011 1:54 pm
Today’s tickers: HD, IBM, AVP & AREX
HD - Home Depot, Inc. – Options on Home Depot are among the most actively traded among single U.S. stocks ahead of the company’s third-quarter earnings release before the opening bell tomorrow. Shares in the home improvement retailer increased as much as 1.3% in the first half of the session to a new six-month high of $38.54, but currently trade flat on the day at $38.06 as of 12:05 PM in New York. Options traders have exchanged more than 65,000 call and put options on the stock, but are so far favoring calls, with more than 3.8 of the contracts changing hands for each single put in play today. Trading traffic is heaviest at the Nov. $39 strike, where more than 22,000 calls have traded against open interest of 7,424 positions. It looks like the majority of these calls were purchased for an average premium of $0.43 per contract. Call buyers may profit at November expiration later in the week should shares in Home Depot rally 3.6% over the current price of $38.06 to surpass the average breakeven point on the upside at $39.43. Shares in Home Depot last traded above $39.43 back in February. Options implied volatility on the stock is up 11.8% to stand at 30.6% ahead of earnings.
IBM - International Business Machines, Inc. – IBM options are humming with activity today following billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box. Shares in IBM rallied 1.3% to $189.84 at the start of the session after Buffett revealed that Berkshire Hathaway acquired a 5.5% stake in the company, mostly during the third quarter. The acquisition of IBM stock reportedly cost Buffett’s cash-rich company $10.7 billion for 64 million shares. Investors positioning for shares in IBM to continue to climb this year snapped up call options in the December expiry. It looks like investors picked up 1,500 calls at the Dec. $190 strike for an average premium of $4.81 apiece, and purchased another 1,700 calls at the higher Dec. $200 strike at an average premium of $1.09 a-pop. Call buyers are prepared to profit should IBM’s shares rally another 2.6% and 5.9% to surpass the average breakeven prices of $194.81 and $201.09, respectively, by expiration day next month. Meanwhile, the purchase of a roughly 2,000-lot Nov. $185/$190 put spread at an average net premium of $1.74 per contract indicates at least one strategist is prepared…
by Option Review - April 18th, 2011 4:14 pm
Today’s tickers: AVP, CAT, AMD & GM
AVP - Avon Products, Inc. – Options traders exchanged more than 5 times as many put options as calls on Avon Products today, but it looks like most of the volume was generated by near-term bullish players. Shares in the global manufacturer and marketer of beauty products are currently down 0.85% to stand at $28.10 this afternoon. More than 14,000 put options changed hands at the May $26 strike on paltry previously existing open interest of 644 contracts. It looks like the majority of the puts were sold for a premium of $0.30 a-pop. Put sellers keep the full $0.30 premium per contract as long as Avon’s shares exceed $26.00 through expiration day next month. The deep out-of-the-money puts currently tout a delta of 0.20, or roughly a 20% chance of landing in-the-money. But, Avon Products is slated to report first-quarter earnings before the opening bell on May 3, 2011, and an earnings miss that sends shares in AVP lower, and therefore the delta and premium on the puts higher, could place put sellers in far less comfortable positions. Put sellers could have large amounts to stock put to them at an effective price of $25.70 – after factoring in the $0.30 premium received – if shares in Avon Products plunge 7.5% from the current price of $28.10 to trade beneath $26.00 at expiration. Shares in AVP have exceeded $26.00 since June 9, 2010.
CAT - Caterpillar, Inc. – Shares in the machinery maker joined in on the broad market decline today after Standard & Poor’s Rating Service cut the U.S.’s long-term credit outlook to negative on rising budget deficits and debt. Fears at home add to global concern that economic growth may slow in the event that Greece winds up in default. Caterpillar’s shares fell as much as 4.7% during the first half of the session to touch an intraday low of $102.16. Trading patterns in the weekly options suggest some investors are speculating on an immediate rebound…
by Option Review - December 29th, 2010 4:21 pm
Today’s tickers: EQIX, XLF, XING & AVP
EQIX - Equinix, Inc. – A large bullish butterfly has taken up residence in June 2011 contract calls this afternoon. It looks like the investor responsible for the spread’s construction expects shares in the provider of global data center services to rally significantly in the next six months to expiration. EQIX shares are currently down slightly by 0.25% to arrive at $79.72 as of 1:00pm in New York. The firm is scheduled to present at Citigroup’s Global Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 5, 2011. The bullish player purchased 15,000 calls at the June 2011 $85 strike for a premium of $5.50 each, sold 30,000 calls at the June 2011 $100 strike at a premium of $1.50 apiece, and picked up 15,000 calls at the higher June 2011 $115 strike for a premium of $0.60 a-pop. The net cost of the spread amounts to $3.10 per contract, or a total of $4.65 million. The legs of the butterfly spread represent fresh positioning in June contract calls on Equinix, as there are less than 170 contracts comprising previously existing open interest at each of the strikes described. Establishing the bullish spread prepares the investor to make money if the price of the underlying stock rallies 10.5% to trade above the effective breakeven point at $88.10 by expiration day in June. Maximum potential profits of $11.90 per contract, or total gains of $17.85 million, are available to the options strategist should shares in Equinix surge 25.4% in the next six months to settle at $100.00 at expiration. The trader only ever risks losing $3.10 per contract on the transaction, but stands prepared to accrue 3.8 times that amount, or $11.90 apiece in the best case scenario. Shares in Equinix traded as high as $105.01 as recently as October 5, 2010, and reached a 52-week high of $110.57 just under one year ago on January 6, 2010. The butterfly spread positions the investor to bank serious profits if the trade comes good before the call options expire in June. Equinix is slated to report fourth-quarter earnings after the market closes on February 9, 2011.…
by Option Review - October 27th, 2010 4:35 pm
Today’s tickers: XLK, ENR, IYR, ALTR, AVP, JCP & TQNT
XLK - Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund – One big options market participant traded a total of 524,600 put options on the technology SPDR ETF this afternoon. It looks like the party responsible for the massive transactions rolled a previously established debit put spread in the December contract forward to the longer-dated March 2011 contract. Shares of the XLK, an exchange-traded fund that mirrors the performance of the Technology Select Sector of the S&P 500 Index, are down slightly by 0.20% to stand at $24.19 as of 2:15 pm in New York. The XLK jumped to the top of our ‘most active by options volume’ scanner after the 112,300-lot December $23/$20 put spread was sold for a net $0.31 per contract. This spread appears to have been initially purchased for a net premium of $0.68 each back on October 7, 2010, when the price of the underlying fund was trading around $23.14. Today, the XLK-options player sold the massive spread in order to purchase an even larger one at the same strike prices in the March 2011 contract. The new put position involved the purchase of 150,000 lots at the March 2011 $23 strike for a premium of $0.96 each, and the sale of the same number of puts at the lower March $2011 $20 strike at a premium of $0.31 apiece. In isolation, the net cost of buying the longer-dated put spread amounts to $0.65 per contract and yields downside protection for the investor should shares of the XLK trade below the breakeven price of $22.35 by March expiration. Enormous trades such as these tend to be tied to stock. Perhaps this trader is augmenting the size of the put spread because he has increased his exposure to the technology sector. Around the same time the puts were bring traded, some 733,000 shares of the underlying were purchased for $24.12 each. We note, however, that at this time there is no way…
by Option Review - September 29th, 2010 6:23 pm
Today’s tickers: MON, EWZ, XLB, HPQ, V, BCSI & SLB
MON - Monsanto Co. – Shares of the maker of genetically modified seeds seemed to be recovering at the start of the current session following Tuesday’s horrendous performance wherein the stock fell as much as 9.80% from an intraday high of $52.64 to a low of $47.50. MON’s shares managed to rebound 4.50% off Tuesday’s low of $47.50 to briefly touch an intraday high of $49.62, although the rally proved to be short-lived and shares are down 1.00% at $48.25 as of 3:15 pm ET. Though MON was unable to keep hold of earlier gains, one contrarian player is optimistic that Monsanto’s shares will reverse course and head back up by November expiration. The investor purchased a call spread, buying 5,000 calls at the November $55 strike at a premium of $0.85 each, and selling the same number of calls at the higher November $60 strike for a premium of $0.27 apiece. Net premium paid to establish the transaction amounts to $0.58 per contract. Thus, the investor is ready to make money should Monsanto’s shares surge 15.20% over the current price of $48.25 to surpass the effective breakeven point on the spread at $55.58 by November expiration. Maximum potential profits of $4.42 per contract are available to the bullish player if MON’s shares jump 24.35% to trade above $60.00 by expiration day.
EWZ - iShares MSCI Brazil Index ETF – Investors are placing near-term bearish bets on the Brazil fund this afternoon by selling calls to finance the purchase of put spreads in the October contract. The large pessimistic plays could be the work of traders hedging long positions or the mark of outright bearish bettors expecting the price of the underlying fund to slip lower ahead of expiration next month. Shares of the EWZ, an exchange-traded fund designed to replicate the price and yield performance of publicly traded securities in the aggregate in the Brazilian market – as measured by the MSCI Brazil Index, rallied…
by Option Review - September 28th, 2010 4:25 pm
Today’s tickers: CVS, DRIV, AVP, WAG, ADBE, PHM & COP
CVS - CVS Caremark Corp. – The better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings report from Walgreen Co. this morning helped CVS’s shares higher during the trading session. Shares rallied as much as 3.365% to rein in an intraday high of $31.64. The increase in the price of the underlying stock inspired one options player to extend bullish sentiment on the stock by initiating a calendar roll. It looks like the investor purchased 10,000 calls at the November $30 strike at a premium of $1.11 each back on September 17, 2010, when shares were trading around $29.72 each. The surge in shares since the purchase bumped up premium on those now in-the-money calls, which the investor sold today for a premium of $2.09 apiece. Net profits on the sale amount to $0.98 per contract. Next the investor renewed optimism on CVS by purchasing a fresh batch of 10,000 calls at the higher January 2011 $32 strike at a premium of $1.64 a-pop. Profits on the new position are available to the trader if CVS’s shares jump 6.3% to surpass the effective breakeven price of $33.64 by expiration day in January.
DRIV - Digital River, Inc. – It looks like an investor expecting Digital River’s shares to remain range-bound through November expiration sold a strangle in the second half of the trading session. Shares of the provider of a variety of marketing solutions and services increased more than 5.50% this afternoon to touch an intraday high of $33.34. The strangle-strategist appears to have sold 2,500 calls at the November $35 strike for a premium of $1.35 each, and sold the same number of puts at the lower November $28 strike at a premium of $0.525 apiece. Gross premium pocketed on the transaction amounts to $1.875 per contract. The trader keeps the full amount of premium received on the strangle play if DRIV’s shares trade within the boundaries of the strike prices described through expiration day. The short positions in both call…
by Option Review - June 29th, 2010 4:25 pm
Today’s tickers: XLF, CMA, LYV, WYNN, MRVL, AVP & PX
XLF – Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF – The familiar shadow of a put butterfly spread appeared in the August contract on the XLF, an exchange-traded fund designed to provide investment results that correspond to the price and yield performance of the Financial Select Sector of the S&P 500 Index, suggesting shares of the fund may continue to decline in the next couple of months to expiration. Shares of the ETF are currently down more than 3.7% to $13.96 with 25 minutes remaining ahead of the closing bell. The bearish put butterfly spread involved the purchase of 10,000 now in-the-money puts at the August $14 strike for a premium of $0.62 apiece [wing 1], and the purchase of 10,000 puts at the lower August $12 strike for a premium of $0.17 each [wing 2]. The investor sold 20,000 puts at the central August $13 strike for a premium of $0.32 a-pop [body]. The net cost of the pessimistic play amounts to $0.15 per contract, thus preparing the investor to make money if shares slip beneath the upper breakeven price of $13.85 ahead of expiration day in August. Maximum available profits of $0.85 per contract are safe in the investor’s piggy bank if shares of the underlying fund decline another 14% from the current price of $13.96 to settle at $12.00 at expiration. Options implied volatility on the XLF jumped 17.5% to 35.96% by 3:38 pm (ET).
CMA – Comerica Inc. – Shares of the financial services firm edged 3.45% lower to stand at $37.25 with just 20 minute remaining in the trading session. Bearish investors dominated activity in CMA options this afternoon, with nearly all of the day’s volume centering on the put side of the field. One investor purchased a debit put spread, buying 7,500 now in-the-money puts at the August $37.5 strike for a premium of $2.50 each, and selling the same number of puts at the lower August $32.5 strike for a premium of $0.80 apiece. The net cost of the spread amounts to $1.70 per contract, and prepares the investor to make money should Comerica’s shares decline another 3.90% to breach the average breakeven point to the downside at $35.80 by expiration day in August. Maximum potential profits of $3.30 per contract are available to the responsible party if CMA’s shares plummet 12.75% from the current…
by Option Review - April 13th, 2010 4:40 pm
Today’s tickers: BPOP, SLV, XRT, RCL, USO, MRO, AVP, PG & CROX
BPOP – Popular, Inc. – Shares of the largest bank in Puerto Rico surged 26.5% during the trading session to a new 52-week high of $3.86 after the firm was raised to ‘buy’ from ‘neutral’ and given a target share price of $3.50 at B. Riley & Co. Popular’s shares took off running on news the company may sell its Evertec unit and some other businesses for $1 billion. Options traders enacted bullish strategies on the stock to position for continued upward movement in the price of the underlying stock. Plain-vanilla call buying took place at the April $3.5 strike where approximately 9,400 now in-the-money contracts were picked up for an average premium of $0.14 apiece. Other traders displayed optimism on Popular, Inc. by shedding put options. Roughly 4,500 puts were sold short at the April $3.0 strike for a premium of $0.06 each. Investors keep the premium received as long as shares trade above $3.00 through expiration day on Friday. Similar bullish activity was observed in the May contract today. Investors paid an average premium of $0.28 per contract to take ownership of nearly 8,000 in-the-money call contracts at the May $3.5 strike price. Additionally, traders expecting shares of BPOP to remain above $3.50 through May expiration shed 6,200 put options at the May $3.5 strike to receive an average premium of $0.33 each. Put sellers at this strike price keep the full premium pocketed on the trade as long as shares of the underlying stock exceed $3.50 through expiration day. Investors short the puts are apparently happy to have BPOP-shares put to them at an effective price of $3.17 each should the put options land in-the-money at expiration. Options players exchange 83,855 contracts at Popular, Inc. as of 3:00 pm (ET), which represent more than 55% of the total existing open interest on the stock of 151,847 contracts.
SLV – iShares Silver Trust ETF – Shares of the silver ETF, an exchange-traded fund whose share price typically reflects the price of silver owned by the Trust at any given time less the Trust’s expenses and liabilities, increased 0.35% in late afternoon trading to stand at $17.87. Options activity on the stock, however, indicates at least one investor is expecting the price of the underlying shares to decline ahead of July expiration. It looks like the bearish…
by Option Review - October 29th, 2009 4:54 pm
Today’s tickers: HGSI, MSTR, INTC, FXI, EFA, AA, AVP, RDC, PLL, FSLR, MOT & AKAM
HGSI – Human Genome Sciences, Inc. – Shares of the biopharmaceutical company made a miraculous recovery since yesterday’s slaughter by exploding 13.25% higher during the session to $20.40. Traders populated various contracts with bullish plays after HGSI was raised to ‘overweight’ from ‘neutral’ with a 12-month target share price of $25.00 at JPMorgan. Heavy call volume in the November contract was likely driven by traders anticipating results of Phase 3 trials employed to evaluate the efficacy of HGSI’s potential drug treatment for lupus, Benlysta. Trading at the November 20/25/30 strike prices mimicked the butterfly spread strategy, and suggests perhaps that traders expect shares to rise to $25.00 by expiration. Investors bought at least 3,500 calls at the November 20 strike for 1.88 apiece as well as purchased 3,500 calls at the November 30 strike for 60 cents each. These contracts effectively mimic the wings of the spread while the 9,000 calls sold at the central November 25 strike perhaps represent the body of the spread. Call spreads were initiated in both the December and January contracts. The December transaction, for example, involved the purchase of 1,000 calls at the December 25 strike for 2.60 each, spread against the sale of 1,000 calls at the higher December 30 strike for 1.00 apiece. The net cost of the trade amounts to 1.60 per contract. Thus, the investor may accumulate maximum potential profits of 3.40 per contract if shares of HGSI rally up to $30.00 by expiration day in December.
MSTR – Microstrategy, Inc. – The software company appeared on our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner this afternoon due to bullish options activity. Investors initiated optimistic plays on the stock despite the 1% decline in shares to $73.03. Profit-taking action appeared in the January 2010 contract while fresh positions were taken in the April 2010 contract. It looks like one investor originally purchased 3,600 calls at the now in-the-money January 70 strike for an average premium of between 3.00 to 3.50 per contract back on July 31, 2009. Today the trader sold the calls for a whopping 7.20 apiece. Net profits enjoyed on the closing sale amount to a minimum of 3.70 up to 4.20 each. Thus, total potential profits earned by the trader are anywhere from $1,332,000 to $1,512,000. In the April contract a bullish risk…