Put volume on Coach, Inc. (NYSE:COH - 60.93) was three times heavier than normal yesterday, as bearish investors bet on short-term downside in the upscale retailer. More than 7,600 put contracts traded during the session, compared to average daily put volume of 2,500.
Four strikes were notably active, accounting for roughly 88% of overall put volume. The majority of this volume translated into new open interest this morning. All told, COH saw the addition of 5,605 puts today versus just 413 calls.
The following strikes were active Wednesday's trading:
As the lion's share of these options traded at the ask price, they were likely initiated on the buy side. Note that all are currently out-of-the-money, suggesting traders expect COH to move measurably lower before the options expire. A long put's losses are capped at the premium paid, while gains are unlimited down to zero. Breakeven for a long put is the strike price less the debit paid.
While the shares are basically at breakeven in 2012, they have lost more than 10% in the last month. Additionally, the stock has been underperforming the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 18% in the past three months. COH ended last week below its 80-week moving average for the first time since mid-August. If it puts in another weekly close south of this trendline, it will be the first instance of two consecutive sub-80-week closes since May 2009.
Bearish speculation has been on the rise for COH shares as the stock has stumbled lower. In the last 10 trading sessions at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) , investors have bought (to open) COH put options at a greater than five-to-one pace versus calls. This volume ratio is higher than all but 5% of the past year's readings, suggesting put-buying demand is notably high from a historical perspective. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR), meanwhile, which considers options with three months or less until expiration, stands at 1.60, meaning there are 1.6 open puts for every call.
Wall Street, meanwhile, has been slower to adopt a cautious view toward COH. Of the 21 analysts following the retailer, 14 have named it a "strong buy" and another has ranked COH a "buy," with no "sell" ratings in the mix. Additionally, the average 12-month price target for the stock is $82.09, a nearly 33% premium from yesterday's close. If brokers begin to rethink their rosy outlook, COH shares could suffer in the short term.
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