Speculative investors appear to have high hopes for content delivery specialist Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM - 38.73), rare-earths issue Molycorp, Inc. (NYSE:MCP - 13.55), and coal stock Peabody Energy Corporation (NYSE:BTU - 25.83), according to volume data from the major options exchanges. In recent sessions, traders have been showing a strong preference for calls over puts on AKAM, MCP, and BTU. Here's a closer look at the latest trends in the options pits for these three hot stocks.
Starting with AKAM, options traders on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) bought to open 1,252 calls on Friday, compared to just 477 puts. From a broader view, AKAM now sports a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.24 across these three exchanges -- indicating that traders have scooped up more than twice as many bullish bets as bearish over the past couple of weeks.
You can't blame traders for feeling optimistic toward AKAM, which has been trekking steadily higher since an earnings-related bullish gap in late July. Since then, the shares have established support at their 10-day and 20-day moving averages. Year-to-date, AKAM is now resting on a healthy gain of about 21%.
As for MCP, buy-to-open call volume is approaching fever pitch. The security's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio stands at 6.92, which ranks higher than 99% of other such readings taken over the previous 52 weeks. This elevated percentile rank points to a near-peak of optimistically slanted option activity on MCP.
On the charts, the stock has recovered from its late-August lows in single-digit territory. However, MCP's 50-day moving average looms overhead in the $14 area. This trendline smacked the shares lower in early July, and could once again serve as resistance. So far in 2012, the security has shed roughly 44% of its value.
Calls have also emerged as the options of choice on BTU, which boasts a 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 3.59. Not only does this ratio indicate that calls bought to open have more than tripled puts over the past two weeks, it also arrives in the 65th annual percentile -- revealing a healthier-than-usual appetite for bullish option contracts.
This sudden interest in calls coincides with a minor breakout for BTU, which scored a moral victory on the charts last Friday. The shares settled the week above resistance in the $25 neighborhood, and conquered their 10-week and 20-week moving averages for the first time since early February. The next challenge for BTU lies directly overhead, with the stock's 32-week trendline hovering at $26.46.
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