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Call volume climbed to nearly twice the norm on Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) yesterday, with about 76,000 contracts crossing the tape during the course of Wednesday's session. By contrast, LVS was only expected to see call volume of about 39,000 contracts.
The stock's April 22.50 call emerged as the day's most popular strike, with 17,978 contracts changing hands. The largest trade at this strike consisted of a block of 2,300 contracts that crossed near the ask price, sending implied volatility up 4% as a result. Open interest swelled overnight by 6,584 contracts, confirming that plenty of new calls were opened at this near-the-money strike on Wednesday.
However, an LVS LEAPS strike also attracted heavy attention yesterday. The stock's January 2011 15-strike call traded volume of 13,868 contracts, the majority of which crossed the tape at the ask price. Open interest here rose overnight by 1,014 contracts, and now stands at 22,306 calls.
The day's bullishly biased option volume was something of an anomaly for LVS, which has drawn plenty of bearish scrutiny lately. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.94 ranks higher than 99% of other such readings taken during the past year, marking a near-peak of pessimistically skewed speculation. Elsewhere, short interest on LVS surged by 5.3% during the past month, and now represents a hefty 15.8% of the equity's float.
Yesterday's uptick in call buying occurred as takeover speculation hit the casino sector, with some market-watchers whispering that LVS might be preparing to launch a buyout bid for Boyd Gaming (BYD). Neither company has offered a comment on the rumors as of yet, but several analysts have already panned the speculation as highly unlikely.
From a technical perspective, LVS hardly seems worthy of the heavy-handed skepticism levied against it. The stock is trading north of support from its 10-day and 20-day moving averages, having rallied an impressive 46.5% in 2010. Earlier today, the shares tapped a new annual high of $22.49 -- just one penny removed from Wednesday's most popular call strike.