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OpenTable Trades South of Familiar Resistance

Options traders are picking up at-the-money calls on OPEN

by 6/21/2012 10:15:48 AM
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The shares of OpenTable Inc (OPEN - 44.51) are currently dancing just south of the $45 level, which hasn't been toppled on a weekly closing basis since early March. However, it appears a slew of options traders are betting on that to change in the short term, as evidenced by yesterday's affinity for at-the-money calls.

By the closing bell, OPEN had seen nearly 4,600 calls cross the tape -- more than double its average daily call volume. On the flip side, just 1,729 OPEN puts changed hands during the course of the session.

Most of the action centered on the August 45 call, which saw nearly 2,900 contracts traded -- 77% of which crossed at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Plus, nearly all of the contracts translated into new open interest overnight, pointing to an influx of fresh bullish bets. By purchasing the August 45 calls to open, the buyers are betting on OPEN to surmount the $45 level within the next couple of months.

OPEN August Open Interest Changes by Strike

However, call buying is becoming par for the course for OPEN. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has racked up a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 1.54, indicating that traders have bought to open more OPEN calls than puts during the past two weeks. Plus, this ratio ranks in the 66th annual percentile, implying that speculators have initiated bullish bets over bearish at a faster-than-usual clip lately.

From a wider sentiment perspective, though, there's still plenty of pessimism plaguing OPEN. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.84 registers in the 62nd percentile of its annual range, implying that near-term options traders are still slightly more put-skewed than usual at the moment.

Meanwhile, more than half of the 10 analysts following OPEN rate it a "hold" or worse. Likewise, the consensus 12-month price target on the stock stands at a measly $45.92 -- just a hair's breadth from OPEN's closing price of $44.67 on Wednesday.

Most notably, short interest on the equity increased by 7.4% during the past month, and now accounts for a whopping 57.6% of the stock's total available float. In fact, at the security's average daily trading volume, it would take more than two weeks to buy back all of these bearish bets.

As alluded to earlier, the shares of OPEN have muscled close to 25% higher since skimming the $36 region in early May, and are now lingering south of the key $45-$46 neighborhood. This area has played the part of both support and resistance since September 2011, but hasn't been toppled since March 2012. However, the stock's Relative Strength Index (RSI) now sits at 69 -- on the cusp of overbought territory, suggesting a pullback could be in the cards.

Weekly Chart of OPEN since September 2011

But, from a contrarian standpoint, if OPEN can muscle its way back atop this region, an unwinding of the aforementioned short positions -- or a flood of upbeat analyst attention -- could translate into added buying pressure for the stock.

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