HIG – Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. – Shares in the insurer rose 0.60% today to $35.73 this morning before backing off slightly to trade up 0.10% on the day at $35.56 as of 11:15 a.m. EST. Hartford’s shares have increased more than 20% during the second half of 2013, and trading in far out of the money call options on the stock this morning may mean some strategists are positioning for the stock to continue to advance during the first half of 2014.
The Jun ’14 $39 strike calls traded more than 7,000 times near the start of the session against open interest of 1,185 contracts, and it looks like most of the volume was likely purchased at a premium of $1.40 each. Call buyers stand ready to profit at June expiration should shares in HIG rally another 14% over the current price of $35.56 to exceed the breakeven point at $40.40. Shares in HIG last traded above $40.40 back in September of 2008.
COF – Capital One Financial Corp. – U.S. stocks are moving higher on Friday, with the S&P 500 Index hitting new all-time highs on the heels of data that showed GDP rose at a faster than estimated 4.1% annualized rate in the third quarter. Capital One shares is among the gainers, rising 0.85% during morning trading to $74.27, the highest level since July of 2007.
Activity in Mar ’14 expiry calls options on COF during the first 20 minutes of the session seems to indicate one options player may be positioning for the price of the underlying to extend gains during the first few months of the New Year. The most traded contracts on Capital One by volume this morning are the Mar ’14 $75 strike calls, with more than 4,000 lots in play versus open interest of 1,720 contracts. Time and sales data indicates most of the calls were purchased at a premium of $2.50 each, thus positioning the buyer of those contracts to profit at expiration next year in the event that COF shares rally another 4.3% to exceed the effective breakeven point at $77.50.
Overall options volume on COF is above 5,000 contracts as of 10:35 a.m. EST, which is roughly two times the stock’s average daily volume of around 2,600 contracts. Trading is concentrated in COF calls, driving the call/put ratio on the stock to 10.5 as of the time of this writing.