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Deckers Outdoor Corp (NASDAQ:DECK - 48.42) saw its fair share of call volume during yesterday's session. Approximately 21,000 call contracts crossed the tape, representing almost five times the average daily volume. By contrast, put volume ran as expected, with fewer than 3,300 put contracts crossing the tape .
A healthy portion of the day's call activity happened around 10:30 a.m. on the NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), when two symmetrical blocks of 3,000 contracts crossed the tape at the September 42.50 strike and the September 47.50 strike. The former traded at the bid price of $5.00, while the latter changed hands near the ask price for $2.30, resulting in a net credit of $2.70. With open interest rising at both strikes, it seems that one trader established a credit spread, or bear call spread, on DECK in the soon-to-be front-month series.
By constructing this neutral-to-bearish strategy, the speculator is hoping DECK falls below the $42.50 mark (the sold strike) over the next five weeks, with the ultimate goal being for both legs to expire worthless. In this best-case scenario, the trader can pocket the full potential profit, or the initial premium collected. Conversely, should DECK finish above $47.50 at expiration, the strategist's risk is limited to $2.30 per contract (the difference between the two strikes minus the net credit).
While this particular speculator evidently used calls for bearish purposes, overall call activity has been a growing trend among traders who have been buying to open option positions of late. The stock currently sports a 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE)/Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE)/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 5.82 -- a marked improvement over its 50-day call/put volume ratio of 1.53. What's more, this 10-day ratio ranks higher than 98% of similar readings taken during the past 12 months, suggesting bullish bets have been scooped up over bearish at a near annual-high clip in recent weeks.
Additionally, DECK's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.49 ranks in the lowest percentile of its annual range. In other words, short-term speculators are more call-heavy now toward the equity than at any other time over the last year.
However, with DECK shedding nearly 36% of its value in 2012, this recent uptick in call volume may simply be the result of short sellers picking up hedges against their pessimistic positions. Short interest popped 13% during the last two reporting periods, and now accounts for more than a quarter of the stock's float.
As it turns out, the shares have been on quite a run lately, trekking 14% higher in the month of August. In fact, Thursday's almost 5% pop put the stock above its 60-day moving average -- a feat not accomplished on a daily closing basis since Feb. 23. However, DECK is still facing a stealth layer of overhead resistance at its 80-day moving average. This trendline has ushered the stock steadily lower since mid-December.