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The shares of The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO - 39.35) have pulled back since flirting with 14-year highs late last month, but it appears the options crowd is betting on more upside for the blue chip. During the past couple of weeks, traders on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open nearly seven calls for every put. In fact, the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 6.91 stands just one percentage point from a 12-month peak, suggesting option buyers are initiating bullish bets at a near annual-high clip.
As a result of the recent influx of calls, the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) now stands at 0.62, indicating that calls comfortably outnumber their put rivals among options expiring within three months. What's more, this ratio now sits at a 52-week nadir, implying that short-term options traders haven't been more call-heavy on KO at any other time during the past year.
And speaking of optimistic positions, it looks like one trader on Friday employed a relatively unique options strategy to profit from a short-term bounce. Specifically, the trader bought 9,000 September 41.25 calls for the ask price of $0.09 each. However, to fund the position and lift his breakeven level, the investor simultaneously sold an equal amount of September 37.50 puts for the bid price of $0.12 each. Since open interest skyrocketed at both strikes overnight, we can assume the trader established a split-strike version of the synthetic long stock strategy for a net credit of $0.03 per pair of options.
Like a KO shareholder, the option trader's goal is for the stock to resume its longer-term uptrend. Specifically, the calls will become profitable if KO surmounts the $41.25 level within the options' lifetime. However, by selling the puts, the speculator can retain the net credit of $0.03, as long as KO remains north of the $37.50 level through September expiration. On the other hand, his losses will begin to add up, should KO breach the put strike. Had he simply bought the calls, his risk would be capped at $0.09 (premium paid), but he wouldn't see a profit until KO topped the $41.34 level (strike plus premium paid).
At last check, the shares of KO have dipped along with the broader equities market, shedding 0.4% to linger near the $39.35 level.