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The shares of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ - 42.24) have pulled back to their 200-day moving average, which contained the blue chip's retreat in April. Nevertheless, it looks like one options trader is gambling on more downside for VZ in the short-term, and is extending his or her bearish position.
During the course of Wednesday's session, VZ saw roughly 59,000 puts change hands -- more than double its average daily put volume, and close to five times the number of VZ calls exchanged. Most of the action transpired at the November and December 44-strike puts, which each saw more than 25,000 contracts traded.
Digging deeper, the majority of the puts crossed in symmetrical blocks -- the November-dated puts at the bid price of $1.20, and the December-dated puts at the ask price of $1.68. However, open interest rose at only the back-month strike, suggesting the investor sold to close the November 44 puts, and used the proceeds to buy same-strike puts in the next series.
From a broader sentiment standpoint, bearish bets are par for the course for VZ. In fact, on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open nearly three puts for every call during the past two weeks. What's more, the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.70 stands just seven percentage points from a 52-week acme, suggesting option players are initiating pessimistic positions at a near annual-high clip.
As such, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) stands at 2.17, indicating that puts more than double calls among short-term options. Furthermore, this ratio registers in the 85th percentile of its annual range, implying near-term options speculators are more put-biased than usual right now.
In the soon-to-expire November series of options, the 42 strike is far and away the most popular, with nearly 58,000 puts outstanding. Through the remainder of the week, this abundance of bearish bets could reinforce support in the $42 area, home to VZ's aforementioned 200-day trendline.