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Amazon.com Option Activity Heats Up

Last-minute option traders are flocking to AMZN

by 1/24/2013 1:12 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:

Eleventh-hour option speculators are swarming Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN 274.67) today, with both bulls and bears gobbling up soon-to-expire contracts. In early afternoon trading, the online retail titan has seen roughly 40,000 calls and 31,000 puts cross the tape, more than doubling its average intraday volume.

On the bullish side, investors have taken a shine to the weekly 1/25 275- and 280-strike calls, which have seen about 6,100 and 4,900 contracts change hands, respectively. A healthy portion of the calls have traded at the ask price, and volume has exceeded open interest at both strikes, pointing to buy-to-open activity.

By purchasing the 275-strike calls at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $1.91, the buyers will profit if AMZN topples the $276.91 level (strike plus VWAP) by tomorrow's closing bell, when the options expire. Already today, AMZN has come within striking distance of this marker, jumping to an all-time acme of $276.65.

Meanwhile, the VWAP of the 280-strike calls is $0.54, indicating a breakeven rail of $280.54 for the buyers implying expected upside of roughly 2.1% to the stock's current price. However, even if AMZN doesn't extend today's quest for new highs, the most the traders can lose is the initial premium paid.

On the bearish side, traders are establishing new positions at the weekly 1/25 275-strike put, which has seen nearly 3,000 contracts change hands on open interest of fewer than 600. Plus, most of the puts crossed at the ask price, once again hinting at buyer-driven volume. By purchasing the puts at a VWAP of $1.78, the buyers expect AMZN to backpedal beneath the $273.22 level (strike minus VWAP) by the end of the week.

Today's accelerated options activity -- as well as the stock's surge -- is undoubtedly in response to Amazon.com's purchase of Ivona Software. More specifically, Amazon said it bought the speech-recognition firm for an undisclosed sum, in hopes of developing "world-class voice solutions" similar to Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) Siri. Furthermore, some analysts said the acquisition could help AMZN broaden its e-book market to the visually impaired and the blind.

At last check, AMZN has tacked on 2.5% to flirt with the $274.67 level.


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