Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog

Two Ways to Play Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) Earnings

Using two different call spreads to gamble on BWLD

by 2/12/2013 7:43 AM
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Earnings season is officially in the eighth inning (or Stoppage Time, if you're more of a soccer fan), but we still have a few interesting names out there.

As we noted last week, Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD) is set to report after the close today. Mr. Market is looking for a 9% move or so. That's a little light compared to some recent earnings-day action. BWLD popped 17% on earnings last February, and saw 11% drops in July and October. The April report facilitated a little gap, but some big moves intraday.

A lunchtime guest on Bloomberg TV yesterday talked up BWLD options. The play he mentioned was pretty simple, and I mean that in a good way. He's looking for a lift in the stock for a combo of technical and fundamental reasons. With the stock around $77.25, he recommending buying the February 75-80 call spread for $2.50. Bets don't come much more straightforward than this one.

Let's say you put on two contracts for a total cost of $500. If BWLD goes up and topples $80 by expiration, the spreads maxes out at $5 and you earn $500. If BWLD disappoints and the stock declines south of $75, you lose a maximum of $500. It's a pure directional bet. If you have an opinion one way or another, it's a nice play. My only comment would be, why not just straight buy $500 worth of calls -- say at the February 75 strike?

If BWLD ends below $75 at expiration, you lose the same $500. If BWLD ends above $85 at expiration, you earn $500 and then keep earning every tick. What do you give up? You underperform between $75 and $85, most prominently at $80 on the nose. But the stock is telling you that the market expects a roughly $7 move, so chances are if you get some upside, it's going near or above $85 anyway.

But if I think BWLD is going to $85, I have another play I like better. I could just buy the February/March 85-strike calendar spread. It costs $0.45 using mid-market prices. Say I buy this four times, for a total cash outlay of $180. Here's the graph (click to enlarge):

BWLD Calendar Spread
Chart courtesy of TD ThinkorSwim

This overstates the upside a bit, in that it doesn't factor in that March volatility will decline after the earnings. But even so, it's likely a winner in the $700-$800 range, if BWLD finishes at $85 upon expiration, and modestly less at prices nearby. And all I risk is the premium on the calendar.

Now, I don't love earnings calendars in general. You need to get pretty close to the right strike in order to win. In fact, I was going to use calendars as an example of an earnings play I didn't like. But that being said, it's a nice play if you have a directional opinion. Odds are if BWLD goes up, it's going somewhere close enough to $85 that the near-month calendar stands to benefit.

Disclaimer: The views represented on this blog are those of the individual author's only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Schaeffer's Investment Research.

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