by Option Review - October 8th, 2012 1:16 pm
Today’s tickers: KMX, AA & MCO
KMX - CarMax, Inc. – Shares in used vehicle retailer, CarMax, Inc., jumped 13% this morning to $33.00 on positive comments regarding revenue growth and same-store sales at ITG Research. The stock is off its earlier highs this afternoon, trading up 9.3% on the day at $31.90 as of 12:40 p.m. ET. Options traders flocked to CarMax options straight out of the gate this morning, snapping up calls across several expiries to position for further upside in the price of the underlying. Near-term bullish positioning in the front month options is heaviest at the Oct. $32 strike, where around 1,200 calls were purchased for an average premium of $0.50 apiece. Traders long the $32 calls stand ready to profit at October expiration in the event that KMX shares add 1.9% to the current price of $31.90 to exceed the average breakeven point at $32.50. Upside calls expiring November 16th attracted fresh interest, as well. Options traders picked up around 700 of the Nov. $33 strike call at an average premium of $0.92 each and purchased some 480 calls at the Nov. $34 strike for an average premium of $0.60 apiece. Call buyers that may see profits in the event that KMX shares soar to a new 52-week high by November expiration, bought more than 300 calls at the Nov. $35 strike for an average premium of $0.39 per contract. Buyers of the $35 strike call start making money if CarMax’s shares surge 11% over the current price of $31.90 to top $35.39 by expiration next month.
AA - Alcoa, Inc. – All eyes will be on aluminum producer, Alcoa, Inc., on Tuesday when the company reports third-quarter earnings after the closing bell. Shares in the name are bucking the trend on a down…
by Option Review - April 11th, 2012 4:23 pm
Today’s tickers: SPR, MCO & ZION
SPR - Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc. – Shares in the manufacturer of commercial aircraft structures and components rallied 3.3% to $23.72 this morning on the heels of Alcoa’s positive earnings surprise and improved outlook for the global aerospace industry. Spirit appears to have received a vote of confidence from one strategist selling a large block of October expiry put options. It looks like the trader sold 3,145 puts at the Oct. $20 strike to pocket premium of $0.85 apiece. The put seller walks away with the full amount of premium in pocket as long as Spirit’s shares exceed $20.00 at expiration in six months. Options volume on Spirit AeroSystems today is higher than usual given the stock’s 90-day average volume of 104 contracts and an overall open interest reading of approximately 8,190 existing positions.
MCO - Moody’s Corp. – A sizable put spread initiated on ratings agency, Moody’s Corp., this morning indicates one strategist may be looking for shares in the name to pull back ahead of May expiration. Moody’s Corp.’s shares, which last week touched a new 3-year high of $43.05, are up 2.6% today at $41.83 and 21.5% year-to-date. The put spread on MCO may be the work of an investor taking an outright bearish stance on the stock, or, alternatively, employing a protective strategy to hedge a long position in the shares, ahead of the Company’s first-quarter earnings report on April 26th. The trader appears to have purchased a 1,950-lot May $37/$40 put spread for a net premium of $0.58 per contract. Profits or downside protection kick in should shares in Moody’s drop 5.8% to breach the effective breakeven price of $39.42, while maximum possible gains of $2.42 per contract are available in the event that shares plunge 11.5% to…
by Phil Davis - August 5th, 2011 10:22 pm
Officials at ratings firm, Standard & Poor’s, said U.S. Treasury debt no longer deserved to be considered among the safest investments in the World. S&P removed for the first time the triple-A rating the U.S. has held for 70 years, saying the budget deal recently brokered in Washington didn’t do enough to address the gloomy long-term picture for America’s finances. It downgraded U.S. debt to AA+, a score that ranks below Liechtenstein.
S&P said "the downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics." It also blamed the weakened "effectiveness, stability, and predictability" of U.S. policy making and political institutions at a time when challenges are mounting.
In other words, the ship is sinking and the captain and crew are doing nothing but rearranging the deck chairs. S&P was supposed to release this report this afternoon (Friday) but the Treasury Department caused a delay by arguing the math the S&P was using (a $2Tn discrepancy). At 8pm, the S&P decided the Treasury was wrong and went ahead and released the report, not only downgrading our Debt to AA+ but giving us a NEGATIVE OUTLOOK as well. Now we have to contemplate what the effect of this change may be…
Let’s first keep in mind that this was expected. In fact, it’s ridiculous how long it took for someone to downgrade us. JPM estimates that $4Tn worth of treasuries are pledged as collateral by borrowers such as banks and derivative traders. The change in status from one ratings agency is unlikely to trigger any immediate covenants (a primer on Sovereign Debt Ratings) but it may take only one more before borrowers are required to come up with many, many Billions of Dollar of cash or securities to keep their creditors at bay – essentially – it’s a margin call on America!
Well, I say this was expected but I mean by us. We cashed out today (see morning post) but Little Timmy Geithner, who blew his chance this week to resign with America’s credit rating intact under his watch, was on Fox News in April SPECIFICALLY stating that there was "NO RISK" that the US could lose it’s AAA rating. Read the article or watch the video –…
by Phil Davis - June 15th, 2010 8:17 am
The futures were doing very well, up almost 1% until CNBC put together the tag-team guest spot of Mohamed El-Erian, the notorious bond pusher from Pimpco and "Doctor Doom" himself – Nouriel Roubini in a classic bear and bigger bear face-off that was timed right into the EU’s lunch hour. Roubini’s new book is called "Crisis Economics" and there’s nothing like a crisis to chase people into the loving arms of PIMCO, where El-Erian gets the fees. It’s odd that there’s not even a simple disclosure statement from El-Erian to guide viewers like: "You know, I do well when the market does bad."
This same gloom and doom tag-team was touring America in September of 2008 (see "Roubini, El-Erian – ‘Things are Getting Worse‘") and we’re up about 20% since then but, to be fair, things did get worse first. The boys teamed up again this February (12th) and their predicition of an additonal 20% drop off the February lows (also brought to you by the fear-mongers at CNBC) was completely wrong at the time but the boys dusted themselves off and took this show on the road again as noted in this May 28th article pairing the two’s depressing outlook.
Things were getting better yesterday until Moody’s (the company Buffett owns a large stake in but has nothing to do with according to his testimony) downgraded Greece in the afternoon – something that was not at all unexpected but was treated as market-moving information on a slow news day. Does CNBC push doom and gloom for ratings or are they trying to help their bosses at GE water down the financial regulation bill by making it seem like the average investor is against it or are they just trying to keep Cramer and the Fast Money team from looking clueless? This is why we used to have LAWS that kept our news sources "fair and balanced" - the moment a news provider takes a side with one of their high profile shows or personalities – they then have a vested interest in MAKING the prediction come true – how can that not color their future editorial positions?
by Option Review - April 16th, 2010 4:12 pm
Today’s tickers: FXI, GFI, MCO, KWK, GME, JDSU & SVU
FXI – iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index Fund – A large-volume short strangle enacted on the FXI, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the price and yield performance of the FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index – an index designed to mirror the performance of 25 of the largest and most liquid Chinese companies, implies one big options player expects shares of the underlying fund to train within a specified range through May expiration. Shares of the FXI are down more than 4% to $42.12 as of 12:15 pm (ET). The strangle-player sold 25,000 calls at the May $44 strike for a premium of $0.93 each, and sold 25,000 puts at the lower May $42 strike for $1.09 apiece. Gross premium pocketed on the transaction amounts to $2.02 per contract. The investor responsible for the short strangle keeps the full $2.02 premium received today as long as the FXI’s share price remains with the range of $42.00 to $44.00 through expiration day next month. The short position in both call and put options exposes the trader to losses in the event that shares rally above the upper breakeven price of $46.02, or if shares slip beneath the lower breakeven price of $39.98, ahead of May expiration. Options implied volatility is up 11.4% to 30.82% as of 12:20 pm (ET).
GFI – Gold Fields Ltd. – Shares of the gold mining company are down more than 5.2% to $12.35 today, but bullish options trading on the stock suggests one trader is itching for a rebound in the price of the underlying shares by July expiration. Gold Fields received an upgrade to ‘outperform’ from ‘sector perform’ earlier in the week at RBC Capital. The optimistic individual sold 7,000 calls at the July $15 strike for a premium of $0.20 apiece in order to partially finance the purchase of the same number of in-the-money calls options at the April $12 strike for $0.90 each. The net cost of getting long the near-term in-the-money options amounts to $0.70 per contract. The parameters of this transaction somewhat mimic those of a covered call strategy. This is because the in-the-money calls in the April contract – assuming shares are able to resist slipping beneath $12.00 through the end of the trading session – allow the investor to take ownership of shares of the underlying stock at an effective price…
by Phil Davis - March 15th, 2010 8:27 am
Top ratings agency, Moody’s says the US & UK are "substantially" closer to losing their AAA credit ratings as the cost of servicing their debt rose.
Under the ratings company’s so-called baseline scenario, the U.S. will spend more on debt service as a percentage of revenue this year than any other top-rated country except the U.K., and will be the biggest spender from 2011 to 2013, Moody’s said today in a report. “We expect the situation to further deteriorate in terms of the key ratings metrics before they start stabilizing,” Cailleteau said. “This story is not going to stop at the end of the year. There is inertia in the deterioration of credit metrics.”
Under its adverse scenario, which assumes 0.5 percent lower growth each year, less fiscal adjustment and a stronger interest-rate shock, the U.S. will be paying about 15 percent of revenue in interest payments, more than the 14 percent limit that would lead to a downgrade to AA, Moody’s said. Financing costs above 10 percent put countries outside of the AAA category into a so-called debt reversibility band, the size of which depends on the ability and willingness of nations to reduce their debt burden by raising taxes or reducing spending.
The U.S. has a 4 percentage-point band, while the U.K. has a 3 percentage-point band. “Those economies have been caught in a crisis while they are highly leveraged,” Cailleteau said, referring to the level of private and public debt as a percentage of gross domestic product. “They have to make the required adjustment to stabilize markets without choking off growth.”
So happy Monday to you! The Pound is certainly not taking this news well and has plunged to $1.505 from $1.52 in early morning trading and the Euro has flopped back to $1.37 but we are still maintaining 90.7 to the Yen so it’s actually a strong dollar day so far. Copper, which is one of our key indicators, has fallen back to $3.32 – which is great for our short plays on FCX and gold is hovering under the $1,110 line (the bullish line for gold) while silver, our tie-breaker, is just over the line at $17. Oil has been skating along at $80.67 for the weekend and gasoline is still strong at $2.25 (go VLO!) with nat gas down at $4.34
by Option Review - January 27th, 2010 4:39 pm
Today’s tickers: INTC, FXI, UFS, TM, BRK.B, X, QCOM, MCO, APC, COST, HNZ & DLTR
INTC – Intel Corp. – Shares of chip-making giant, Intel Corp., dipped lower in early trading, but rebounded this afternoon to stand 0.75% higher on the day at $20.15. Long-term protective positioning in the January 2011 contract on the stock suggests cautious optimism by Intel-option traders. One investor purchased a put spread by picking up 5,000 in-the-money puts at the January 2011 $22.5 strike for a premium of $4.05 each, marked against the sale of 5,000 puts at the lower January 2011 $12.5 strike for $0.35 apiece. The net cost of the transaction amounts to $3.70 per contract. The trader responsible for the spread is likely long shares of the underlying stock. The spread, in this scenario, serves as an insurance policy on the value of the underlying position should Intel’s shares slip beneath the effective breakeven price of $18.80 in the next year to expiration. The investor is protected even if shares of the semiconductor chip producer collapse down to $12.50 by January of 2011.
FXI – iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index Fund – Shares of the exchange-traded fund, which invests in twenty-five of the largest and most liquid Chinese companies, are down 0.75% to $38.27 with just under one hour remaining in the trading session. FXI’s share price has declined nearly 15% in the past few weeks, from a 2010 high of $44.53 on January 6, 2010, down to an intraday low today of $37.89. One option trader’s actions in the March contract today suggest he has had enough of the downturn, and is looking for a sharp rebound by expiration in two months. The investor initiated a three-legged combination play using both calls and puts on the fund. It appears the main portion of the trade is a ratio-bullish risk reversal involving the sale of 5,000 deep in-the-money put options at the March $41 strike for a premium of $3.66 each, spread against the purchase of 10,000 calls at the same strike for $0.70 apiece. The purchase of 10,000 puts at the March $35 strike for $0.85 each rounded out the third leg of the transaction. The investor pockets a net credit of $0.56 per contract on the trade, which he keeps if shares rally up to $41.00 by expiration. Additional profits accrue to the upside if shares bounce 7.15% higher to…
by Phil Davis - December 22nd, 2009 8:16 am
Yes! Once again the futures are up!
Who could have guessed such a thing? At 7:30, we have about a half-point gain in the US futures despite the fact that oil is languishing at $73.35 and gold is down to $1,091 with silver failing $17 for the first time since October and copper bouncing off $3.12 again. So no one wants any commodities but the economy’s great??? Perhaps it’s because, according to the Rasmussen Report, that as of yesterday, 52% of Americans were not done with their holiday shopping. In fact, according to what has to be either an idiotic survey or a survey of idiots, 24% of adults have not even started their shopping yet - with just 2 shopping days left!
Sixteen percent (16%) of adults say they will be spending more money on gifts this holiday season compared to past years. That’s up seven points from last week and the highest level measured so far this year. However, most (63%) say they expect to spend less money this year.
I suppose we can always hope that the 16% who spend more will spend more than 4 times what the other 63% cut back and then all our Retail Christmas wishes can still come true. So forget the disappointments of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and Super Saturday and Snow-Bound Sunday – we still have "Take What’s Left Tuesday" and "Whatever is On-Sale Wednesday" and "Thoughtless Gift Thursday" for all the real last-minute enthusiasts.
I’m sure if this week disappoints, the media will be waiting to spin how great they expect the post-holiday rush to be as everyone comes in for the sales (as retailers desperately race to clear their shelves so they have less to load on trucks when they close 20% of their stores and lay off a few million people next quarter). Why would the media spin retail so positive? Who do you think pays their bills? The most important message the media needs to send every minute of every day is: "Advertising works!"
So get out there you last-minute maniacs and shop or the economy drops! Unfortunately, no one will tell you this is happening but me and I almost feel silly to keep saying it BUT LOOK AT THE SIGNS! We’ve been reading the tea leaves since the weekend with our PSW Holiday Shopping Survey, which has given us mixed reports from around the country and I urge Members to contribute their shopping anecdotes as it gives us…
by Option Review - December 15th, 2009 4:34 pm
Today’s tickers: CAT, MS, UUP, STI, WFC, MCO, M, ROK, BBY, JAVA & HMY
CAT – Caterpillar, Inc. – Bearish option traders are bracing for potential CAT-share price erosion through expiration in February 2010. Shares edged nearly 0.75% lower in late afternoon trading to stand at $57.94. One pessimist purchased a put spread to prepare for potential declines. The transaction involved the purchase of roughly 7,000 puts at the February 55 strike for a premium of 2.35 apiece, marked against the sale of 7,000 puts at the lower February 35 strike for 49 cents premium each. The net cost of the trade amounts to 1.86 per contract. The investor responsible for the spread probably holds a long position in the underlying. Under this assumption, the trader has established downside protection, which kicks in if Caterpillar’s shares fall beneath the breakeven price of $53.14 by expiration day in February.
MS – Morgan Stanley – Analysts at Barclays Capital slashed fourth-quarter earnings estimates for Morgan Stanley to 40 cents from 90 cents today. Perhaps the bearish options activity observed on MS during the trading session was partly inspired by the significant profit-forecast revision at Barclays. Either way, investors populating Morgan Stanley’s January 2010 contract appear pretty pessimistic on the second-largest U.S. securities firm. Traders threw in the towel on MS by shedding nearly 20,000 calls at the January 31 strike for an average premium of 75 cents apiece. Some investors may be closing out previously established long call positions. Analysis of the existing open interest at that strike suggests traders are likely cutting their losses by selling the calls today. Investors abandoning bullish bets do not paint a rosy picture of where MS’s share price may settle during the first weeks of 2010.
UUP – PowerShares DB US Dollar index Bull Fund – The U.S. dollar is brimming with confidence on the first of a two-day FOMC meet in Washington and while investors are not expecting any signs of a policy change, there is certainly a firmer tone underlying the dollar in the past 72 hours or so. Option traders placed extremely bullish bets using call options on the bullish dollar index fund, whose shares currently stand 0.9% higher on the day at $22.82. Investors bought a huge chunk of 100,000 long-dated options reserving buying rights over the dollar at a fixed $24.00 before the contract expires in January 2011. That leaves…
by Phil Davis - October 2nd, 2009 4:29 pm
Today’s tickers: MCO, MS, FDX, JCP & IYR
MCO - Credit ratings and research firm, Moody’s Corp., experienced a more than 3.5% decline in shares at times during the trading session. The stock recovered slightly by lunchtime with shares currently off by 2% to $19.92. It appears one investor exchanged approximately 55,000 put options on the ratings company. The first of two transactions looks like profit taking on an existing bearish position, while the second trade indicates the investor may have had a change of heart. The trader originally established a 10,000-lot put spread at the November 28/20 strike prices on June 1, 2009. The bearish spread resulted in an average net cost of 2.78 per contract. Today, the trader closed out the position by selling the November 28 strike puts for 8.50 each, and by simultaneously buying the lower strike puts for 2.55 apiece. Net profits on the transaction amount to about 3.17 per contract for a total of $3,170,000. The investor banked gains on the nearer-term pessimistic options play, but subsequent trading suggests he is now bullish on Moody’s through expiration in January. The investor populated the January contract with a credit put spread. It appears he sold 17,500 puts at the January 24 strike for 5.60 each and bought 17,500 puts at the lower January 16 strike for 1.45 a-pop. The transaction results in a net credit of 4.15 per contract for a grand total of $7,262,500. Maximum retention of the credit is possible if shares of MCO rally 20% from the current price to surpass the $24.00-level by expiration next year. We note that shares of the ratings agency last traded higher than $24.00 on September 17, 2009. – Moody’s Corp. –
MS - The financial services firm jumped onto our ‘most active by options volume’ market scanner after a large-volume put spread was established in the January contract. Shares of the financial services firm are 2% lower today to $29.34. The transaction involved the purchase of 22,500 puts at the January 29 strike for 3.05 apiece, spread against the sale of 22,500 puts at the lower January 22.5 strike for 80 cents each. The net cost of the bearish play amounts to 2.25 per contract. The investor responsible for the trade is likely looking to protect the value of a long position in the underlying stock. Shares of Morgan Stanley must decline 9% from the current…