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Options are ablaze on ACADIA Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:ACAD - 5.55) this morning, with neutral-to-bullish speculators exploiting pricey premiums. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) stands at 415% -- above 75% of all other readings of the past year, suggesting front-month options are relatively expensive at the moment. Against this backdrop, it looks like some traders are employing short-term puts to gamble on support for the soaring drug maker, while December-dated call holders are cashing in their chips.
Within the first 90 minutes of trading, ACAD has seen roughly 13,000 calls and 19,000 puts change hands, far surpassing its average intraday volume of about 700 calls and 200 puts. Most popular has been the December 5 put, which has seen around 10,300 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 250 contracts, pointing to an influx of new initiations. Plus, the majority of the puts have crossed at the bid price, suggesting they were sold.
By writing the puts to open, the sellers are expecting ACAD to remain north of the $5 level through the next few weeks. In this best-case scenario, the sellers can retain the entire premium received at initiation -- which, as alluded to earlier, is quite a pretty penny. However, should ACAD breach the strike within the puts' lifetime, they could be obligated to buy shares of the stock for $5 apiece, representing a premium to what they'd pay on the Street.
Technically speaking, the shares of ACAD skyrocketed more than 300% this morning, touching a three-year high of $6.53. Bolstering the stock was news that Pimavanserin, Acadia's antipsychotic drug for patients with Parkinson's disease, met its primary and key secondary goals of a late-stage trial. "This is an important advance in a very complicated and difficult disease," said Chief Executive Uli Hacksell.
Along with today's put writers, there are likely plenty of bulls celebrating the news. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators bought to open more than six ACAD calls for every put during the past two weeks. In the front-month series, the now in-the-money December 2.50 strike was most popular, with more than 26,100 calls in residence. Today, more than 3,900 calls have traded at the strike -- mostly at the bid price, hinting at post-data profit-taking.