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Facebook Shares Are What’s Up On Agreement To Buy WhatsApp

Shares in Facebook Inc. (Ticker: FB), which fell during aftermarket trading on Wednesday following an announcement by the company that it has agreed to buy mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp Inc. for $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock and $3 billion in restricted shares, staged a midday comeback on Thursday. The turn around in the price of the underlying appears to have sent options traders scrambling and volume in FB options to roughly 200% of the stock’s average daily reading before 3:00 p.m. EST. Shares in Facebook declined as much as 3.4% during morning trading to touch down at an intraday low of $65.72 just after 10:00 a.m. EST, bounced off that level and haven’t looked back. The shares are up nearly 2.0% at $69.40 as of the time of this writing. Based upon the turnaround in the price of the underlying, one might expect less volatility to accompany the relief rally in Facebook’s shares, but the opposite appears to be happening. The closing reading of options implied volatility midweek of 34.8% has jumped to 38.3% today (+10%) despite the near 2% gain for the stock.

Average daily options volume on Facebook is an impressive 344,000 contracts, but overall volume in call and put options on the social media giant today has topped 675,000 contracts with roughly seventy minutes until the closing bell sounds. The most traded contracts on FB by volume are the regular March $75 and $85 strike calls, with upwards of 60,000 options changing hands at each and well in excess of open interest. The Mar $75 calls traded for an average of $0.84 each today while the Mar $85 strike calls traded at an average premium of $0.23 per contract. The sharp rally in the price of Facebook’s shares since the bulk of the volume printed has driven premiums on these call options up to $1.15 and $0.29 each, respectively as of 2:50 p.m. EST. Much of the volume at both strikes appears to have been purchased earlier in the day at premiums below current levels; as such, it seems likely that some traders positioning for further upside in the stock price by March expiration are generating quicker than anticipated gains on this view.

Chart – Facebook shares rebound to hit fresh highs


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