by Option Review - November 30th, 2012 1:45 pm
Today’s tickers: YUM, STJ & SAVE
Options brief will resume December 4, 2012
YUM - YUM! Brands, Inc. – Shares in the operator of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut dropped like a rock on Friday after the company forecast a decline in fourth-quarter same-store sales in China and projected full-year earnings that missed analyst estimates. The stock fell as much as 10.4% in the first half of the session to an intraday low of $66.98 and was cut to ‘Neutral’ from ‘Positive’ with 12-month target price of $69.00 at Susquehanna. Front month put activity on YUM suggests some traders are positioning for shares in the name to extend losses in the near term. Upwards of 4,500 puts changed hands at the Dec. $65 strike this morning against previously existing open interest of just 392 contracts. Time and sales data suggests the bulk of the put options were purchased for an average premium of $0.92 apiece, thus positioning buyers to make money in the event that YUM’s shares decline another 4.3% to breach the average breakeven price of $64.08 by December expiration. The company’s shareholder meeting is scheduled for Thursday of next week in New York City.
STJ - St. Jude Medical, Inc. – Bearish options on medical devices maker, St. Jude Medical, are in play today after one or more traders snapped up at-the-money puts expiring January 2013. Shares in STJ, which slumped to a multi-year low of $30.25 last week, are up 0.60% today to stand at $33.90 as of 12:20 p.m. ET. Fresh interest in the Jan. 2013 $34 strike put options at the start of the session suggests some traders are positioning for shares in St. Jude to potentially pullback during the next six weeks. Approximately 2,100 of the $34 strike puts traded within the first 10 minutes of…
by Option Review - November 21st, 2012 2:12 pm
Today’s tickers: SKX, FLO & STJ
Options brief will resume November 27, 2012.
SKX - Skechers USA, Inc. – An upgrade to ‘Positive’ from ‘Neutral’ with a 12-month target price increase to $22.00 from $19.00 at Susquehanna today kicked shares in shoemaker, Skechers USA, Inc., up as much as 13.6% to $19.26 on Wednesday. The sharp rise in shares sparked heavier-than-usual trading traffic in Skechers options this morning, with notable volumes building in upside calls on the footwear company. It looks like some traders are positioning for shares in the name to extend gains, while other strategists are taking profits on previously established bullish positions. The Dec. $17 strike call changed hands 1,000 times against open interest of 1,445 contracts within minutes of the opening bell today. Much of the open interest in the $17 strike call is the result of trading that took place on Monday; 1,000 of these contracts were purchased on Monday afternoon at a premium of $0.74 apiece. Today, it looks like the buyer of those 1,000 option contracts is selling-to-close the position for an average premium of $1.90 each, and pocketing net profits of around $1.16 per contract in the process. Fresh in-the-money call buying on SKX is apparent at the Dec. $18 strike where 300 lots were purchased at an average premium of $1.07 each. Buyers of these contracts profit at expiration next month as long as shares in Skechers settle above the average breakeven price of $19.07. Bullish positioning spread to the Jan. $18 and $20 strike calls, as well. Traders snapped up roughly 200 lots at each striking price, paying average premiums of $1.72 and $0.68 per contract, respectively. Upwards of 3,300 call and put options are in play on the Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based company as of 11:50 a.m. ET, versus the stock’s average daily options volume of around 430 contracts. Calls are far more active than puts, with the call-to-put ratio up above 11.6 as of the…
by Option Review - December 19th, 2011 2:42 pm
Today’s tickers: MO, NSC, STJ & JNS
MO - Altria Group, Inc. – Bullish activity in Altria Group call options this morning indicates shares in the cigarette maker, which today rallied 1.7% to a new three-year high of $29.63, may have more room to run in 2012. Investors dabbling in February 2012 contract calls on the Richmond, Virginia-based Company may be prepping for the stock to hit new highs following the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report on January 26. Options volume on Altria Group is heaviest at the Feb. 2012 $31 strike, where more than 3,000 calls changed hands against zero open positions. It looks like most of the call options were purchased for an average premium of $0.16 apiece. Call buyers stand prepared to profit should shares in the tobacco products provider climb 6.1% to top $31.16 at expiration day in February. Philip Morris International, Inc.’s shares too are in rally-mode today, though activity in February 2012 contract calls on the cigarette seller may not be the work of a bullish player. The purchase of 3,000 Feb. 2012 $80 strike calls on Philip Morris would have tended to suggest optimism on the tobacco Company; however, it appears the options were likely tied to the sale of stock in a position that may be profitable if shares in PM decline.
NSC - Norfolk Southern Corp. – A large put credit spread on the rail transportation provider signals the stock is unlikely to crash in the near future. Shares in Norfolk Southern Corp. are bucking the broader market decline today, trading 0.40% higher on the session at $70.09 just before 1:00 PM on the East Coast. The strategist responsible for the sizable spread appears to have sold 13,750 puts at the Jan. 2012 $65 strike at a premium of $0.65 each, and purchased the same number of…
by Option Review - June 24th, 2011 5:30 pm
Today’s tickers: STJ, POT, SNDK & FXI
STJ - St. Jude Medical, Inc. – A three-legged bullish options combination play on St. Jude Medical cost $8,500 to initiate today, but the strategist responsible for the transaction could walk away with more than $1.26 million in his wallet come January 2012 expiration. The options player appears to have sold puts on the medical devices maker to offset premium required to purchase a bull call spread. Shares in St. Jude Medical are currently down 1.9% to stand at $46.49 as of 1:10pm on the East Coast.
The investor sold 1,700 puts at the Jan. 2012 $40 strike for a premium of $1.70 each, purchased the same number of calls up at the Jan. 2012 $50 strike at a premium of $2.45 per contract, and sold 1,700 calls at the Jan. 2012 $57.5 strike for premium of $0.70 apiece. The net cost of putting on the three-way trade amounts to $0.05 per contract or a total of $8,500. The spread positions the trader to make money should STJ’s shares rally 7.7% over the current price of $46.49 to exceed the effective breakeven price of $50.05 at expiration next year. Maximum potential profits of $7.45 per contract, or $1,266,500, are available to the investor if the price of the underlying stock jumps 23.7% in the next seven months to trade above $57.50 at expiration in January. The trader loses the $8,500 paid to establish the position if shares fail to rally as predicted. Additional losses accumulate if shares are sharply lower at expiration. The short stance in Jan. 2012 $40 strike puts indicates the investor may wind up having 170,000 shares of the underlying put to him at $40.00 each should the options land in-the-money at expiration day. The maximum payload requires STJ…
by Option Review - February 8th, 2011 6:28 pm
Today’s tickers: CBST, STJ, EFA & PEP
CBST - Cubist Pharmaceuticals, Inc. – A three-legged transaction involving Cubist Pharmaceuticals stock, as well as call and put options, appears to be the work of a bearish investor positioning for shares in the name to pullback ahead of August expiration. CBST shares are currently down 1.05% to arrive at $22.15 as of 11:55am in New York. It looks like the strategist initiated a delta neutral position, selling around 88,600 shares at $22.24 each, selling 2,100 calls at the August $30 strike for a premium of $0.80 per contract, and buying 2,100 puts at the August $17 strike at a premium of $1.45 apiece, on a delta of approximately 0.42. The parameters of the transaction prepare the trader to potentially amass substantial profits if shares in the biopharmaceutical company continue to trend lower in the time remaining to expiration. The value of the long put options will rise as shares fall, while the short calls will decline in value and become cheaper to buy back. Erosion in the price of the underlying shares is also favorable on the short stock leg of the transaction.
STJ - St. Jude Medical, Inc. – The medical devices manufacturer popped up on our scanners in early morning trade after a large number of call and put options changed hands in the January 2012 contract. It looks like one investor initiated a sizeable bullish stance on the stock in order to position for shares in St. Jude Medical to rise substantially by January of next year. Shares in the name increased as much as 2.2% today to secure an intraday- and new 52-week high of $44.95 in the first half of the session. The trader appears to have sold 5,900 puts at the January 2012 $40 strike for a…
by Option Review - December 30th, 2010 6:37 pm
Today’s tickers: XLB, XLF, VRGY & STJ
XLB - Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF – Options traders are initiating bearish strategies on the XLB, an exchange-traded fund designed to track the performance of the Materials Select Sector of the S&P 500 Index, with shares of the fund currently trading just 0.05% lower on the day at $38.43 as of 12:25pm. Investors bracing for a pullback in shares of the fund focused their attention on put options expiring in January and February of 2011 right out of the gate this morning. Plain-vanilla put buying took place at the February 2011 $38 strike where more than 7,600 puts changed hands, versus paltry previously existing open interest of 125 contracts. It looks like the majority of the puts, at least 5,100 of the contracts, were purchased at an average premium of $1.09 apiece this morning. Put buyers are poised to profit should the price of the underlying fund fall 3.95% from the current price of $38.43 to breach the average breakeven point to the downside at $36.91 by expiration in February. A nearer-term pessimistic player appears to have purchased a 1,000-lot January 2011 $37/$38 strike put spread for a net premium of $0.27 per contract. The investor makes money if XLB shares decline 1.8% to trade below the effective breakeven price of $37.73 by January expiration day. Maximum potential profits of $0.73 per contract are available to the put player should shares of the fund drop 3.7% to trade below $37.00 before the contracts expire next year. The overall reading of options implied volatility on the ETF is higher by 6.4% this afternoon to arrive at 20.86% as of 12:45pm.
XLF - Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF – The XLF jumped to the top of our ‘most active by options volume’ market scanner within…
by Option Review - July 21st, 2010 5:54 pm
Today’s tickers: BAC, JNJ, EXP, KO, YHOO, VVUS, SKS & STJ
BAC – Bank of America Corp. – A large-volume bullish risk reversal initiated in the September contract on Bank of America in the first half of the current trading day indicates one options strategist is positioning for a rebound in the price of the underlying stock by expiration day in a couple of months. BAC’s shares, which fell 2.85% to $13.38 this afternoon, are currently down more than 32.7% since the stock reached a 52-week high of $19.86 back on April 15, 2010. Analysts at Goldman Sachs removed Bank of America from the conviction buy list on Monday. But, one optimistic individual is rooting for BAC to come roaring back to life by September expiration day. The investor appears to have sold 20,000 puts at the September $12 strike for a premium of $0.26 apiece in order to purchase the same number of calls at the higher September $15 strike for a premium of $0.36 each. The net cost of the transaction amounts to $0.10 per contract. If financial services firm’s shares fail to rally above $15.00 by expiration, the investor will lose the full premium paid to purchase the trade. However, if the price of the underlying increases 12.85% over the current price of $13.38, the risk reversal player will start to make money above the effective breakeven price of $15.10 through September expiration. Finally, the short position in put options at the September $12 strike suggests the investor is willing to have Bank of America shares put to him at an effective price of $12.10 apiece should the puts land in-the-money at expiration.
JNJ – Johnson & Johnson – Shares of the provider of consumer products, pharmaceuticals and medical devices fell more than 2.85% in afternoon trading to arrive at $56.89 just before 3:00 pm (ET). The health care company’s shares slipped lower after the firm said second-quarter revenue was flat and lowered its 2010 profit forecast by $0.15 a share. JNJ still reported a 7.5% increase in net income, earning $1.23 a share in the second-quarter, but revising full year earnings lower took its toll on the price of the underlying stock today. One contrarian options player populating JNJ LEAPS caught our eye this afternoon. The investor appears to have purchased a plain-vanilla debit call spread using sky-high strike prices in the January 2012 contract. The…
by Option Review - March 16th, 2010 4:20 pm
UNH – UnitedHealth Group, Inc. – Health and well-being company, UnitedHealth Group, commenced the trading session in the red after Goldman Sachs Group removed the firm from its ‘Conviction Buy List’. However, UNH is still rated as a ‘buy’ at Goldman, and the company’s shares recovered this afternoon to stand 0.60% higher at $32.73. A fire-storm of bullish activity descended on UnitedHealth during the middle of the trading day. Investors gobbled up April contract call options perhaps to position for continued bullish movement in the price of the underlying shares. Options players purchased 42,600 call options at the April $34 strike for an average premium of $0.87 per contract. More than 50,000 calls changed hands at that strike, which blows the 4,333 contracts of open interest at that strike right out of the water. Investors long the calls are positioned to amass profits should UNH’s shares rally another 6.5% to breach the breakeven price of $34.87 by April expiration. Wild-and-crazy options activity on the stock lifted the overall reading of options implied volatility 5% to 43.06% as of 2:05 pm (ET).
BZH – Beazer Homes USA, Inc. – Single- and multi-family homebuilding company, Beazer Homes USA, attracted bullish options players today amid a 4.65% rally in its share price to $4.95. Beazer was upgraded to a ‘buy’ rating and a target share price of $6.25 at Citigroup yesterday. Plain-vanilla call buying took place at the near-term March $5.0 strike where investor picked up 2,100 contracts for an average premium of $0.14 apiece. Investors long these contracts are hoping Beazer’s shares rally another 4.25% from the current price to surpass the effective breakeven point at $5.14 ahead of expiration on Friday. Optimism spread to the April $5.0 strike as traders coveted 2,200 calls for an average premium of $0.32 per contract. Call-buyers in the April contract profit if shares jump 8% and trade above the breakeven price of $5.32 by expiration day next month. The surge in investor demand for options on Beazer Homes lifted the overall reading of options implied volatility on the stock 15.8% to 61.92% this afternoon.
WFC – Wells Fargo & Co. – The bank holding company’s shares increased more than 0.65% during the session to $30.09, inspiring bullish options activity on the stock. Investors positioning for a continued rally in the price…
by Option Review - March 15th, 2010 4:10 pm
Today’s tickers: FO, STJ, XLB, BSX, BIDU, VRSN & MNKD
FO – Fortune Brands, Inc. – Shares of the holding company with subsidiaries such as Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Inc., which manufactures Jim Beam whiskey and Maker’s Mark, and Acushnet Company, the producer of Titleist golf products, rallied 2.35% during the session to reach a new 52-week high of $48.45. The increase in Fortune’s share price inspired bullish options trading on the stock today. Approximately 1,000 calls were picked up at the April $50 strike for an average premium of $0.66 apiece. But, the real action took place at the June $50 strike where nearly 15,500 calls were purchased for an average premium of $1.68 per contract. Investors holding the June $50 strike call options stand ready to amass profits only if Fortune Brands’ shares rally another 6.65% from the current day’s price to breach the breakeven point on the calls at $51.68 by expiration day in June.
STJ – St. Jude Medical, Inc. – The manufacturer of cardiovascular medical devices experienced a sharp 8.45% rally in its share price today to $40.67 on news its rival, Boston Scientific Corp., suspended sales of its implantable heart defibrillator this morning. Options players initiated bullish transactions on the stock by selling 2,100 puts at the March $40 strike for an average premium of $0.60 apiece. Put-sellers keep the $0.60 premium per contract as long as St. Jude’s shares trade above $40.00 through expiration on Friday. However, put-players are obliged to have shares of the underlying stock put to them at an effective price of $39.40 each should the put options land in-the-money at expiration. Optimistic investors scooped up 3,100 call options at the July $45 strike by paying an average premium of $0.77 per contract. Call-coveters are positioned to profit only if shares rally another 12.5% from the current price to breach the breakeven share price at $45.77 by expiration day in July.
XLB – Materials Select Sector SPDR – Shares of the XLB, an exchange-traded fund that tracks the performance of the materials economic sector of the S&P Composite Stock Index, declined 0.30% today to $33.19. Trading in long-dated options on the fund, however, suggests one individual is bullish on the sector through expiration in January 2011. It appears the investor sold 10,000 put options outright at the January 2011 $27 strike for a premium of $1.32 per contract. The…
by Option Review - January 12th, 2010 4:11 pm
Today’s tickers: IYR, PFE, FXI, WFT, UUP, JPM, GLD, ERTS, STJ & PVH
IYR – iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate Index ETF – Bullish options activity on the IYR flies in the face of bearish momentum across equities in the broader market today. The investor responsible for the optimistic positioning in the February contract appears little concerned with the current 2% decline in the value per IYR share today to $45.31. It looks like the trader sold a put credit spread in order to offset the cost of buying out-of-the-money call options. The three-legged combination involved the sale of 10,000 puts at the February $45 strike for a premium of $1.56 each, spread against the purchase of 10,000 puts at the lower February $42 strike for $0.65 apiece. The net credit of $0.91 per contract received on the credit spread is more than enough to cover the cost of the 10,000 calls purchased at the February $48 strike for $0.55 each. After establishing all three legs of the spread, the trader pockets $0.36 per contract. The investor keeps the full $0.36 only if IYR’s shares trade above $45.00 through expiration next month. Additional profits amass only if shares of the fund rally 6% from the current price to surpass $48.00. We note that the investor responsible for the trade may suffer maximum potential losses of $2.64 per contract if the price of the underlying slips to $42.00 by expiration day.
PFE – Pfizer, Inc. – A bullish risk reversal on the global pharmaceutical company today suggests shares may rally to $20.00 by expiration in June. Pfizer’s shares withstood downward market pressure for the majority of the trading session, and even climbed slightly higher in earlier trading, but edged 0.75% lower to $18.70 by 2:15 pm (EDT). The reversal play involved the sale of 10,000 in-the-money put options at the June $20 strike for a premium of $2.07 apiece, spread against the purchase of 10,000 out-of-the-money call options at the same strike for $0.70 in premium. The investor receives a net credit of $1.37 per contract, which he keeps if PFE’s shares rally up to $20.00 by expiration. The short sale of put options implies the trader is willing to have shares put to him at an effective price of $18.63 each. However, the investor would optimally like to see shares rally at least 7% over the current price to…