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DryShips Option Traders Expect Rough Waters Ahead

DRYS skeptics purchased out-of-the-money puts on Wednesday

by 1/17/2013 10:34 AM
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The shares of DryShips Inc. (NASDAQ:DRYS - 2.14) are on the rise this morning -- likely to the dismay of yesterday's option traders. During the course of the session, the shipping concern saw nearly 6,100 puts cross the tape -- about five times its average daily volume, and more than twice the number of DRYS calls traded.

Most of the action transpired at the March 1.50 put, which saw 5,000 contracts change hands at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.07. Open interest at the back-month strike skyrocketed overnight, and a healthy portion of the puts crossed at the ask price, suggesting speculators were buying the puts to open.

By doing so, the buyers expect DRYS to retreat into new-low territory in the short term. More specifically, the buyers will make money if DRYS breaches the $1.43 level (strike minus VWAP) by mid-March, when the options expire. If DRYS should add to its year-to-date surplus, though, the most the traders can lose is the premium paid at initiation.

However, yesterday's preference for puts is par for the course for DRYS. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.22 ranks in the 67th percentile of its annual range. Or, in simpler terms, option buyers have picked up puts over calls at a faster pace than usual during the past couple of weeks.

Echoing that, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.53 stands just 2 percentage points from a 52-week peak. In other words, near-term options players have rarely been more put-heavy during the past year.

As alluded to earlier, the shares of DRYS are up 6%, at last check, jumping back into the black for the week. Since touching the $1.53 level on Dec. 31, the stock has advanced roughly 40%, though upside momentum appears to be stalling in the formerly supportive $2.00-$2.20 region.

Weekly Chart of DRYS since July 2011


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