VZ - Verizon Communications, Inc. – Upside call options are in play on Verizon this morning, with shares in the wireless carrier up better than 2.1% on the session at $44.53 on an upgrade to ‘Overweight’ from ‘Neutral’ with a 12-month target price of $50.00 at Piper Jaffray. Traders positioning for shares in Verizon to rise to their highest level since October 2012 picked up roughly 1,700 calls at the May $46 strike for an average premium of $0.64 apiece. Call buyers stand ready to profit at May expiration should shares in VZ rally another 4.7% to top the average breakeven price of $46.64. Nearer-term bullish activity is notable in the Feb. $44 strike calls, where upwards of 3,400 in-the-money options changed hands in the early going. It looks like most of these calls were purchased at an average premium of 0.82 each. Traders long the $44 strike call options make money if shares in Verizon top $44.82 by expiration in two weeks.
FINL - Finish Line, Inc. – Shares in the specialty retailer of athletic footwear and accessories are trading modestly higher on Friday, up 0.20% at $18.68 on a strong up-day for U.S. stocks. Trading traffic in Finish Line options this morning suggests one or more traders are preparing for shares in the name to slip to a new 52-week low during the next few months. Investors in the retailer have had a rough six months, with the price of the underlying declining more than 30% off a six-month high of $24.90 in September, down to a 52-week low of $16.87 on January 8th. Options traders positioning for Finish Line’s shares to pullback purchased roughly 675 puts at the May $17.5 strike for an average premium of $0.98 apiece this morning. Put buyers may profit if shares in FINL drop 11.5% from the current price of $18.68 to trade below the breakeven point at $16.52. Indianapolis-based Finish Line reports fourth-quarter earnings at the end of March.…
XLK - Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF – A sizable short straddle on the Technology SPDR ETF comprises nearly all of the day’s options volume generated on the fund as of 1:00pm in New York. It looks like the investor responsible for the transaction is hoping to see the price of the underlying settle as close to $26.00 as possible by expiration day next month. Shares in the XLK, an exchange-traded fund that corresponds to the price and yield performance of the Technology Select Sector of the S&P 500 Index, increased as much as 1.0% during the session to secure an intraday high of $25.94. The straddle-strategist appears to have sold 15,000 calls and 15,000 in-the-money puts at the May $26 strike to pocket gross premium of around $1.08 per contract. The investor keeps the full amount of premium received on the trade if shares in the XLK settle at $26.00 at expiration. The trader may walk away with some portion of the total premium as long as the ETF’s shares trade within the range of $27.08 to the upside, and $24.92 on the downside, through expiration in May. The short-straddle player will also benefit from declines in options implied volatility and the passage of time, as both factors erode premium on the options and cheapen the cost of buying back the straddle, should he choose to do so, at some future date.
FCS - Fairchild Semiconductor International – May contract call activity on the semiconductor maker appears to be the work of an options player taking a bullish stance on Fairchild ahead the company’s Thursday morning first-quarter earnings report. Shares in the San Jose, CA-based company are currently down 1.2% to stand at $19.00 in early-afternoon trade. The options strategist initiated a debit call spread, buying roughly 2,200 calls at the May $21 strike for an average premium of $0.60 each, and selling the same number of calls up at the May $23 strike at an average premium…
DISH – DISH Network Corp. – The implementation of a ratio put spread on the U.S. provider of direct broadcast satellite subscription television service this afternoon was perhaps put on by an investor looking to lock in recent share price gains. DISH shares, which are currently up 2.4% on the day to arrive at $20.77 by 3:40 pm ET, have rebounded nearly 17.5% since touching down to $17.75 on July 1, 2010. It looks like one trader purchased 3,000 puts at the December $20 strike for an average premium of $1.58 each, and sold 6,000 puts at the lower December $18 strike for an average premium of $0.83 a-pop. The investor responsible for the transaction receives a net credit of $0.08 per contract, and keeps the full amount at long as DISH’s shares exceed $20.00 through December expiration. The trader is perhaps utilizing the spread to protect the value of a position in the underlying shares. If this is the case, downside protection kicks in should shares reverse course to trade below $20.00 by expiration day. The decision to employ a ratio spread rather than a 1-by-1 spread or a plain-vanilla long put stance suggests this investor does not expect DISH shares to collapse ahead of expiration at the end of 2010. The firm is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings ahead of the opening bell on August 9, 2010.
LBTYA – Liberty Global, Inc. – It looks like one options strategist expects shares of the international producer of video, voice and broadband internet services to remain range-bound through October expiration. Liberty Global’s shares are currently down 0.20% to stand at $29.65 as of 3:05 pm ET. LBTYA reported an adjusted net loss of $2.42 a share for the second quarter of 2010 after the market closed on Tuesday. But, shares moved very little following earnings. Perhaps the lack of fluctuation in the price of the underlying shares during earnings season bolstered the strangle seller’s premonition that LBTYA’s shares are likely to trade within a specified range for the next couple of months. The investor appears to have sold roughly 10,000 puts at the October $27.5 strike for a premium of $0.70 each in combination with the sale of about the same number of calls at the October $32.5 strike for an average premium of $0.35 apiece. The trader pockets…
In trying to assess the trajectory of the US economy, one is struck by the recent divergence between the manufacturing and the services sectors. Manufacturing in the United States has picked up steam recently in spite of some weather-related headwinds (see chart). The service sector on the other hand took a turn for the worse, which is negatively impacting the labor markets in this service-oriented economy (see story). A couple of key indicators point to slower non-manufacturing activity:
OvaScienceSM (NASDAQ: OVAS), a life sciences company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of female fertility treatments, today announced the issuance of two United States patents covering its AUGMENTSM fertility treatment. AUGMENT is based on the Company's egg precursor cell (EggPCSM) technology and is being developed to improve egg quality and the success of in vitro fertilization (IVF). AUGMENT will be available in international IVF clinics this year.
“The new patents strengthen and extend the protection for AUGMENT in support of our efforts to offer a potential new fertility treatment option to women and families,” said Michelle Dipp, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of OvaScience. “We continue to aggressively pursue additional pate...
Before the market opened, the weekly unemployment report came in better than expected, although the reporting of new claims has skewed in both directions by weather (e.g., my home state). The S&P 500 rallied at the open and hit its morning high 30 minutes later -- one that it would beat by a tenth of a point during the noon hour, up 0.43%. The index traded lower in the afternoon and closed with a trimmed gain of 0.17%, but that's another record high.
Tomorrow's employment report for February will be closely watched by market participants, but the pattern of late has to write off weak economic news as weather-related and celebrate goo...
The Global X Social Media Index ETF (Ticker: SOCL) touched fresh record highs on Thursday morning, surprising no one given the top three holdings of the Fund are Hong Kong-based Tencent Holdings (12.678%), Facebook Inc. (12.506%) and LinkedIn Corp. (8.166%), which are up 130%, 160% and 22%, respectively, since this time last year. The SOCL reflects the performance of companies involved in the social media industry, including companies that provide social networking, file sharing and other web-based media applications. Shares in the ETF rose 1.3% today to a new high of $23.00, and have soared approximately 65% since this time last year.
Today brought three better than expected economic releases from Construction Spending, ISM Manufacturing, and Personal Income. The ISM figure was quite unexpected and Personal Income was well above expectations. If we ignore for a moment that the Final GDP reading for Q4 was lowered on Friday (which may or may not have been primarily caused by severe weather), we have had a week of better than expected economic numbers. Corporate earnings have also continued to exceed forecasts, albeit with a bit more cautious guidance.
Of course, none of that matters when the “war drums” start beating. Russia and the Ukraine are engaged in a serious game of “chicken” with a bear in the hen house. The Russian ruble has borne the brunt of the damage so far with a double digit drop today again...
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Ladies and Gentlemen, hobos and tramps,
Cross-eyed mosquitoes, and Bow-legged ants,
I come before you, To stand behind you,
To tell you something, I know nothing about.
And so the circus begins in Union Square, San Francisco for this weeks JP Morgan Healthcare Conference. Will the momentum from 2013, which carried the S&P Spider Biotech ETF to all time highs, carry on in 2014? The Biotech ETF beat the S&P by better than 3 points.
As I noted in my previous post, Biotechs Galore - IPOs and More, biotechs were rushing to IPOs so that venture capitalists could unwind their holdings (funds are usually 5-7 years), as well as take advantage of the opportune moment...
Welcome to the fouth update of the IRA Virtual Portfolio. First I am going to summarize the current state of the Portfolio then I will get into all the activity we had during September expiration.
Profit and Loss – Net of closed positions the portfolio is up a total of $769
Market Commentary – Last expiration I said, "I would like to put a total of $20,000 to work by the end of SEP expiration. If the VIX pops up to around 20 I plan to put about $50,000 total to work." The market didn't quite reach the goal but I did manage to deploy $15,000 of buying power. I still feel the market is too high and expect a correction during October. If the vix pops up to around 20 I still plan to put about $50,000 to work. If a correction doesn't happen I still plan to have a total of $25,000 in buying power put to work by October expiration. Now on to the act...
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