Stocks quoted in this article:
Calls are easily outpacing their put counterparts on eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY - 56.37) today, with the stock up more than 2% in early trading. Around 12,000 calls have crossed the tape so far, compared to roughly 10,000 puts. The most active strike is EBAY's February 55 call, which has seen more than 1,800 contracts trade. A healthy portion of these have gone off at the ask price, and implied volatility was last seen 1.7 percentage points higher, hinting at buy-to-open activity.
By purchasing these in-the-money calls to open for a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $1.88, traders will begin to profit with each step north of $56.88 (strike price plus VWAP) EBAY takes through the close on Friday, Feb. 15, at which point these options will expire. This breakeven mark is just a stone's throw from the stock's current perch.
This optimistic outlook toward EBAY is understandable when looking at the stock's technical backdrop. The equity has been stair-stepping its way higher atop its 20-week moving average since last January, and is now sporting an impressive 76% year-over-year gain.
EBAY is continuing this positive price action in today's session, after receiving a pair of bullish brokerage notes ahead of the bell. Specifically, Susquehanna started the stock with a "positive" rating, while Bernstein raised its outlook to "outperform" from "market perform." This upward momentum carried the stock to the $56.56 mark -- its highest level in eight years.
In the near term, EBAY may be poised to encounter some additional brokerage-related tailwinds. No fewer than seven covering analysts still maintain a middling "hold" recommendation toward the outperforming equity, while the consensus 12-month price target of $59.38 represents a slight 5% premium to today's technical milestone. A re-evaluation of ratings from this skeptical bunch could provide a fresh wave of buying power for EBAY.
At last check, the equity was up 2.2% to trade at $56.37.