Options traders are taking sides on commodity stock Arch Coal, Inc. (NYSE:ACI - 7.01), natural gas giant Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK - 18.93), and Redbox kiosk operator Coinstar, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSTR - 48.12), according to volume data from the major options exchanges. Call buying is approaching annual-high levels on ACI, while puts have been in heavy rotation on CHK and CSTR. Here's a closer look at the latest trends in the options pits for these three hot stocks.
Speculators on the International Securities Exchange (ISE) and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) have bought to open 10,981 calls on ACI over the past five sessions, compared to a mere 612 puts. Broadening our scope to include buy-to-open volume from the NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), as well, ACI has garnered a 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 7.41. This reading ranks higher than 93% of other such ratios taken over the last year, indicating that calls have rarely been purchased at a faster pace relative to puts.
With ACI down more than 51% year-to-date, this strong preference for bullishly oriented options is a little surprising. Despite a recent move above former resistance at its 10-week moving average, the stock remains stuck below its 20-week trendline. Plus, ACI is trading very near peak call open interest of 22,369 contracts at the August 7 strike, which could keep the shares pinned through the end of the week.
Elsewhere in the commodities space, CHK puts have been gaining popularity. During the past five sessions, traders on the ISE have bought to open 13,664 puts and 3,057 calls on the equity. Now, CHK sports a 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 1.25, which ranks higher than 85% of comparable readings taken over the past 52 weeks. In other words, options players have shown a greater preference for puts over calls just 15% of the time.
CHK shares are in the red today, pressured by reports that BP Capital -- the investing firm helmed by energy magnate T. Boone Pickens -- unloaded its stake in the company during the second quarter. This 1.5% drop simply deepens CHK's 52-week deficit of 39%. Meanwhile, the round-number $20 level has lately emerged as a new layer of resistance. Despite multiple challenges of this region since April, CHK has managed only one weekly close north of $20 in the intervening months.
Finally, speculative investors on the ISE have purchased 2,076 CSTR puts over the past week, easily outstripping the 99 calls bought to open during this time frame. The rising preference for bearish bets is confirmed by the stock's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 1.01, in the 80th annual percentile -- not to mention CSTR's hefty short-to-float ratio of 29.3%.
However, the strong preference for puts among near-term options players could actually provide a measure of support for CSTR. In the soon-to-be front-month September series, peak put open interest of 4,794 contracts can be found at the out-of-the-money 47.50 strike. Going forward, this sizable accumulation of underfoot puts could serve as an options-related foothold for the shares. In today's session, CSTR is up 1.4%, adding to its year-over-year advance of 10%.
Mid-Caps Nearing a Triple of March 2009 Lows
Featured Partners: AOL DailyFinance
© 2013 Schaeffer's Investment Research, Inc. 5151 Pfeiffer Road, Suite 250, Cincinnati, Ohio 45242
Phone: (800) 448-2080 FAX: (513) 589-3810 Int'l Callers: (513) 589-3800 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized reproduction of any SIR publication is strictly prohibited.
Market Data provided by QuoteMedia.com | Data delayed 15-20 minutes unless otherwise indicated.