by Option Review - August 23rd, 2012 1:43 pm
Today’s tickers: DAL, GES & AGU
DAL - Delta Air Lines, Inc. – Options on the Atlanta, Georgia-based airline were among the most actively traded as measured by volume this morning after a large block of bearish puts changed hands in the first hour of the trading session. Shares in Delta Air Lines are sliding on a down day for the broader market, trading 4.0% lower at $9.15 as of 12:10 p.m. ET. Volume in Delta options was heaviest at the Dec. $8.0 strike, where upwards of 11,500 puts traded against previously existing open interest of 3,299 contracts. It looks like 9,110 of the $8.0 strike puts traded in a block and appear to have been purchased along with the remainder of the overall volume at a premium of $0.48 per contract. The sizable stake in DAL puts may represent outright bearish positioning on the airline through the end of the calendar year, or could be a hedge to protect the value of an existing position in the underlying shares. Profits, or downside protection, kick in if shares in Delta plunge 18% from the current price of $9.15 to breach the effective breakeven point at $7.52 by December expiration. Shares in Delta Air Lines, Inc. last traded below $7.52 in November 2011.
GES - Guess?, Inc. – Bulls buying front-month calls on Wednesday afternoon ahead of Guess, Inc.’s second-quarter earnings report were crushed today after the retailer revealed declining same-store sales and lowered estimates for full-year earnings and revenue. Shares in Guess reacted to the disappointing report by dropping 20% to an intraday low of $26.73. The largest increase in September expiration call option open interest overnight was in the $36 strike contracts, which rose by 904 lots to 1,406 contracts. A review of time and sales from Wednesday afternoon shows the purchase of approximately 850 of the Sep. $35 calls for a premium of $0.95 apiece just after 12:20 p.m. ET. Less than 24…
by phil - March 28th, 2012 8:19 am
Wasn't it just 2 days ago that the EU was all set to pop the ESM to $1.25Tn and the IMF was going to add another Trillion and the Fed was talking about more QE in the $1.25Tn range, which plunged the Dollar to multi-week lows? Shouldn't adding 6% of the entire planet's GDP in additional stimulus give us more than a one-day pop in the markets?
As I pointed out in Monday's Morning Alert to Members – these are all just RUMORS and my conclusion in the Alert was:
Despite the bullish turn of events (which we anticipated last week) we're more inclined to cash out our bullish trades into the excitement and press our bear bets and TOMORROW, if we're still over our levels – THEN we will scramble to add some aggressive bullish trades to our virtual portfolios. Again, I cannot stress enough that CASH is my preferred position because this market is tough to call and you need to be very flexible and very nimble to trade it.
We proceeded as planned and, so far, we haven't had any reason to capitulate and get more bullish and that is both surprising and disappointing as this is the end of the first quarter of 2012 – if not now – when? As David Fry notes:
Monday’s rally was typical as we head toward the end of the quarter. Hedge fund performance fees are on the line and any way to boost these profits is job one. Top holdings for hedge funds include the usual suspects: AAPL, IBM, INTC, BAC, DIS, HD etc.
With little volume it’s easy for algos and hedge funds to prop stocks on little hard news. Tuesday we briefly saw more of this. Just as markets were weakening a story appeared using the Fed’s favorite oracle, the WSJ, as Fed governor Rosengren stated, “more stimulus is on the table”. Immediately HFT algos jumped and markets rose if only briefly.
It's very exciting for us as PLCN (see Thursday's notes) went all the way up to $736 on Monday and sold off on some pretty heavy trading yesterday. Slowly but surely, our negative premise is beginning to take shape as Piper Jaffray is finally catching up with us and noting "a sharp decline in unique visitors to Priceline's booking.com" from growth of 61 percent during the…
by Option Review - December 16th, 2011 2:57 pm
Today’s tickers: RIMM, RRR, HNR & DAL
RIMM - Research in Motion, Ltd. – Bruised, battered and beaten-down does not adequately describe how shares in RIMM look these days, particularly today after the company revealed fourth-quarter sales and earnings guidance that missed expectations, and said the new generation of Blackberrys will launch later than it had anticipated. Shares in the Research in Motion opened the session down 13.3% at an eight-year low of $13.12. The stock this year has lost more than 80.0% of its value this year, having come down from a February 18, 2011, 52-week high of $70.54. Options volume on the stock is just about to top 400,000 contracts as of 1:00 PM in New York, making it the most actively traded single-stock name by options volume today. Puts on the Blackberry maker are changing hands roughly 1.8 times for each single call option in action today. Trading in weekly options set to expire next Friday suggest some traders expect the price of the underlying to slump to fresh lows during the next five trading sessions. Bearish positions accumulated at the Dec. ’23 $14 strike, where more than 4,500 in-the-money puts changed hands against 1,082 open positions. It looks like most of the puts were purchased for an average premium of $0.83 each. Traders eyeing continued near-term weakness snapped up around 2,000 puts at the lower Dec. ’23 $13 strike at an average premium of $0.35 a-pop. Investors long the $13 strike puts may profit at expiration in the event that RIMM’s shares slip beneath the average breakeven point at $12.65. Call sellers also made an appearance in the weekly options, selling roughly 2,000 contracts at the Dec. ’23 $13 strike to pocket an average premium of $0.84 apiece. Investors selling the call options may walk away with the full amount of premium in hand as long as shares settle below $13.00 at expiration.…
by Option Review - December 15th, 2010 4:06 pm
Today’s tickers: V, ABC, HTHT & DAL
V - Visa, Inc. – The credit card issuer and global electronic payment services provider popped up on our scanners this morning after one bearish options strategist sold a strangle in the January 2011 contract. It looks like the investor responsible for the transaction sees Visa’s shares slipping lower, while still trading within a certain range through expiration next month. Shares in Visa were down less than 1.25% around the time the strangle was put on, but have since plunged more than 4.00% to $77.39 as of 12:55pm in New York. As of midday, it looks like this trader’s directional play enhanced with the sale of a strangle, is now working in his favor. The strangle-strategist sold 2,100 calls at the January 2011 $85 strike for a premium of $1.02 each, and sold the same number of puts at the January 2011 $65 strike at a premium of $0.23 apiece. Gross premium pocketed on the transaction amounts to $1.25 per contract. The strangle was tied to the sale of 42,000 shares of the underlying stock at $79.60 each, which makes sense given the 0.20 delta on the calls. The investor keeps the full premium on the trade as long as shares trade within the boundaries of the strike prices described through January 2011 expiration. The short stance in shares is a sign this individual expects Visa’s shares to fall over the next several weeks, while the sale of the Jan. 2011 $65 strike puts indicates that he does not see shares collapsing more than 15% to a new 52-week low. As with any short strangle, the investor may absorb losses if shares move against him. Losses on the strangle start to accumulate if Visa’s shares rally above the upper breakeven price of $86.25, or should shares slip beneath the lower breakeven point at $63.75, ahead of January expiration day. In hindsight, the strangle was nicely timed. Selling the same Jan. 2011 $65/$85 strangle now yields gross premium of $0.95 per contract versus the far richer $1.25 per contract enjoyed by this early-bird investor.…
by Option Review - October 21st, 2010 4:04 pm
Today’s tickers: HLF, REE, XLB, BIDU, DAL, RSH & MOT
HLF - Herbalife, Ltd. – It looks like one cautiously optimistic options trader initiated a delta neutral hedge on the maker of weight management, nutritional supplement and personal care products this afternoon ahead of the firm’s third-quarter earnings announcement scheduled for release after the close on November 1, 2010. Herbalife’s shares are currently down 1.25% to stand at $63.20 as of 3:45 p.m. in New York trading. The investor appears to have picked up 58,000 Herbalife shares at a price of $63.76 each as well as 2,000 calls on a 0.29 delta for a premium of $1.45 per contract. The long stance taken in HLF shares suggests the trader is bullish on the stock and expecting shares to climb higher. But, the put options serve as downside protection in case the investor’s inclinations fail to align with the performance of the stock going forward. The put options will be well worth the added premium if earnings are disappointing and shares head lower ahead of November expiration day.
REE - Rare Element Resources, Ltd. – The Canada-based company that was the target of bullish options trading just 24 hours ago has transformed into a hub of bearish activity. Shares in Rare Element Resources, which own the Bear Lodge mine in Wyoming, fell as much as 27.05% from yesterday’s high of $13.71 to an intraday low of $10.00. Despite the substantial decline today the current price of the stock is still up roughly 260% since August 20, 2010, when shares were around $2.80 each. Pessimistic players took to the options field on REE to place bearish bets on the stock. Investors expecting shares to continue lower picked up put options and sold call options in the November and December contracts. Traders picked up…
by Option Review - October 20th, 2010 4:12 pm
Today’s tickers: MU, REE, MEE, DAL, USB, VLTR & KR
MU - Micron Technology, Inc. – Renewed rumors that the memory chip maker could be the target of a leveraged buyout by private equity investors looking to take the company private inspired an options feeding frenzy today. Micron’s shares responded to speculative musings by rising as much as 6.30% to an intraday high of $7.76. Just before 2:00 p.m. in New York trading, one big options market participant initiated a large-volume bullish spread in the April 2011 contract. The debit call spread serves to position the trader to benefit handsomely should buyout rumors wind up having some truth to them ahead of April expiration. The options strategist picked up 21,750 calls at the April 2011 $9.0 strike for a premium of $0.71 each, and sold the same number of calls at the higher April 2011 $11 strike at a premium of $0.27 a-pop. Net premium paid for the transaction amounts to $0.44 per contract. Thus, the investor is prepared to make money should Micron’s shares surge 21.65% over today’s high of $7.76 to exceed the effective breakeven point on the spread at $9.44 by expiration day next year. The trader may pocket maximum potential profits of $1.56 per contract if the chip maker’s shares jump 41.75% to trade above $11.00 by April expiration. Investors populating Micron options during the session exchanged more than 7.1 calls on the stock for each single put in play as of 3:25 p.m. in New York. A total of 146,615 option contracts have changed hands on Micron Technology with 35 minutes to go before the closing bell.
REE - Rare Element Resources Ltd. – Shares in Rare Element Resources Ltd., which has a 100% interest in the Bear Lodge property, rallied more than 19.2% today to…
by Option Review - August 19th, 2010 4:44 pm
Today’s tickers: DAL, AKAM, GG & IYR
DAL – Delta Air Lines, Inc. – One contrarian investor initiated a three-legged bullish options combination play on Delta Air Lines today with shares of the underlying stock trading lower by 6.25% on the day at $10.65 as of 12:55 pm ET. It looks like the trader is betting Delta’s shares are not likely to fall much lower ahead of expiration in January 2011. The investor sold 4,000 puts at the January 2011 $10 strike for premium of $1.17 each, shed another 4,000 puts at the lower January 2011 $9.0 strike for premium of $0.80 apiece, and finally purchased 4,000 calls at the higher January 2011 $12.5 strike at a premium of $0.98 a-pop. The transaction yields a net credit of $1.00 per contract to the investor, which he keeps in full as long as the airline’s shares exceed $10.00 through expiration day. The long stance in call options implies the potential for additional profits to be made should DAL’s shares surge 17.4% over the current price of $10.65 to surpass the $12.50-level ahead of expiration in January. If shares continue to descend, however, the investor could wind up having a total of 800,000 shares put to him in the event both chunks of puts at the January 2011 $10/$9.0 strikes land in-the-money at expiration.
AKAM – Akamai Technologies, Inc. – Bullish players are dominating trading activity in Akamai Technologies’ options this morning due to reports of renewed takeover chatter. Investors expecting AKAM’s shares to climb higher are scooping up call options in the August and September contracts. The firm’s shares are currently up 2.8% on the day to arrive at $45.30 as of 11:30 am ET. Traders purchased at least 4,200 now in-the-money calls at the August $45 strike for an average premium of $0.45 apiece. Call buyers at this strike make money if, by expiration tomorrow, Akamai’s shares exceed the average breakeven price of $45.45. Optimism spread to the September contract where traders picked up 1,100 call options at the September $49 strike for an average premium of $0.69 a-pop. Investors long the September $49 strike calls are positioning for AKAM’s shares to rally to a new 52-week high by expiration day next month. The current 52-week high on the stock is $46.72, but the price of the underlying stock would need to surge 9.7% over the current price of…
by Option Review - February 4th, 2010 5:21 pm
Today’s tickers: EWZ, CVX, WFC, GFI, SU, MA, ZION, DAL, AMAG & JWN
EWZ – iShares MSCI Brazil Index ETF – An iron condor options strategy employed in the February contract on the EWZ implies one investor expects the underlying share price of the fund to stagnate ahead of expiration in two weeks. Shares of the exchange-traded fund, which generally correspond to the price and performance of publicly traded securities in the Brazilian market, are down 5% today to $64.37. Today’s decline merely adds salt to the wounds – The Brazil index ETF has taken a severe beating in the past few months, falling 20.5% since attaining a 52-week high of $80.93 back on December 3, 2009. The iron condor, a strategy utilized by option traders anticipating little movement in the underlying share price, is perhaps one investor’s way of indicating the worst is over and a bottom is close at hand. The iron condor’s construction is essentially the combination of two strangles, or alternatively can be thought of as two credit spreads. On the call side, the investor pockets a net credit of $0.09 per contract by selling 10,000 calls at the February $71 strike for $0.13 apiece, spread against the purchase of 10,000 calls at the higher February $74 strike for $0.04 each. As for the puts, the trader receives a net credit of $0.26 per contract on the sale of 10,000 puts at the February $59 strike for $0.44 each, marked against the purchase of 10,000 puts at the lower February $56 strike for $0.18 apiece. Therefore, the combined credit enjoyed on the iron condor amounts to $0.35 per contract. Maximum retention of the $0.35 credit, or total monetary profits of $350,000, is contingent upon the underlying share price at expiration. EWZ shares must trade within a range of $59.00 to $71.00 in order for the investor to walk away with maximum profits. The investor holding the iron condor is exposed to significant losses if his ‘neutral’ prediction is wrong. Maximum loss potential on the transaction of $2.65 per contract is far greater than the $0.35 credit received for undertaking such risk. But, apparently this trader is confident that shares of the underlying stock will move sideways – at least through February expiration. Perhaps this confidence stems from the fact that losses do not amass to the upside unless shares rebound 10.85% to surpass the upper breakeven…
by phil - January 7th, 2010 4:31 pm
Today’s tickers: F, IPG, MBI, DAL, XLF, XHB, CROX, GME, BBBY & NVTL
F – Ford Motor Co. – Yesterday we reported on a short strangle play, which implied the automaker’s shares would likely remain within the realm of $10.00 to $12.00 for the next six months to expiration in June 2010. Today we observed bullish options activity in the January 2011 contract, which points to significantly higher shares for Ford in the next twelve months. The stock rallied again today, gaining 2% to reach a new 52-week high of $11.60 with just under 30 minutes remaining in the session. Bullish indications came in the form of a call spread and plain-vanilla call buying strategies. It looks like one investor purchased a large chunk of 50,000 calls at the January 2011 $17.50 strike for an average of $0.58 apiece. The trader responsible for the transaction benefits from this position only if Ford’s shares explode 56% over the current price to surpass the breakeven point at $18.08 by next January. The parameters of the call spread also implies a significant increase in shares of the motor company by 2011, but the nature of the spread limits upside profit potential, whereas the plain-vanilla call buyer’s profits are potentially limitless. The investor responsible for the spread selected the more conservative January 2011 $15 strike to purchase approximately 6,000 calls for an average premium of $1.06 per contract. The other half of the debit spread involved the sale of the same number of calls at the higher January 2011 $22.50 strike for about $0.20 each. The net cost of the bullish play amounts to $0.86 per contract and positions the investor to accrue profits above the breakeven price of $15.86. Maximum potential profits of $6.64 per contract are available to the trader if Ford’s shares rally a whopping 94% from the current value to $22.50 by expiration in January of 2011.
IPG – Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. – A long straddle strategy initiated on the advertising and marketing company implies one investor expects greater volatility in the price of the underlying through expiration in February. The inherent nature of the long straddle suggests shares of IPG may swing dramatically in the next few weeks. Interpublic’s shares are currently off 2.5% to stand at $7.27 in afternoon trading. The straddle-player purchased about 2,000 puts at the February $7.50 strike for an average premium of…
by Option Review - January 5th, 2010 4:31 pm
Today’s tickers: JPM, LVS, S, WFC, UAUA, NBR, PTEN, FIG, PCS, DAL & TPX
JPM – JPMorgan Chase & Co. – A three-legged combination play suggests one investor anticipates a significant rally in JPMorgan’s shares within the next few months. The stock is trading 2% higher this afternoon to $43.65. The trader utilized both calls and puts in the March contract in order to position for potential bullish movement in shares of the underlying. The investor sold 15,000 puts at the March 40 strike for an average premium of 1.18 apiece to partially offset the cost of buying a call spread. The call spread involved the purchase of 15,000 calls at the now in-the-money March 43 strike for an average premium of 2.58 each, marked against the sale of 15,000 calls at the higher March 47 strike for 90 cents premium apiece. The net cost of the three-legged strategy amounts to 90 cents per contract. Maximum potential profits of 3.50 per contract – a grand total of $5.25 million – are available to the investor if JPM’s shares rally through $47.00 by expiration day. Profits amass above the breakeven price of $43.50. The short put stance at the March 40 strike implies the investor is willing to have shares put to him at $40.00 apiece if the put options land in-the-money.
LVS – Las Vegas Sands Corp. – Reports of a large 48% increase in December revenue at Sands China – the Macau unit of Las Vegas Sands Corp. – pushed shares of LVS up 9.5% to $18.21 today. Option bulls, hoping good fortune and accurate foresight are on their side looked to the February contract to initiate plain-vanilla call buying strategies. The now in-the-money February 18 strike had roughly 2,700 calls picked up for an average premium of 1.29 apiece. The higher February 19 strike was the hot spot for bulls looking to bet on an LVS rally. Out of the 19,500 calls traded at that strike, more than 12,200 contracts were purchased for about one dollar per contract. Call options exchanged at the February 19 strike vastly outnumber previously existing open interest at that strike of just 2,725 lots. The higher February 20 strike received bullish interest as well, with about 2,000 contracts coveted by traders for an average premium of 66 cents each. As of 3:15 pm (EDT), investors traded just under 127,000 option contracts of LVS,…