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Options volume for market stalwart The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE:PG - 77.38) Tuesday more than doubled normal levels, with puts outnumbering calls by 45,000 to 40,000 -- with investors counting on a longer-range pullback for the consumer-goods maker. That put traffic was also more than double normal levels, and the April 70 put was the most popular of the bearish bets.
Nearly 7,000 of these pessimistic positions changed hands -- the majority at the ask price -- with volume narrowly exceeding open interest and implied volatility ticking up in intraday trading. Open interest rose by nearly 5,200 contracts overnight, indicating at least some of yesterday's volume consisted of new purchased positions. The volume-weighted average price (VWAP) was $0.33, meaning PG stock needs to close at or below $69.67 (strike minus VWAP) on the expiration date of April 19 for the trades to break even. That's nearly 10% off its current price -- and the option has a delta of negative 0.11, meaning these traders currently have an 11% chance of seeing their options breach the strike price by expiration.
The bearish action is part of a recent trend for PG in the option pits. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) reads 1.24, meaning traders have preferred puts over calls among options that expire in the next three months. But more importantly, that reading is near a 12-month high (99th percentile), indicating bearish sentiment has almost never been as elevated in the past year. Also, data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows that PG's 10-day put/call volume ratio is 3.80, meaning traders have been buying to open nearly four times the number of puts than calls over the last 10 days. That reading is also 1 percentage point shy of a bearish annual peak.
This sentiment runs counter to PG's performance on the charts, however. The equity is up 14% year-to-date and is up roughly 20% as compared with this same time last year. In addition, PG has climbed out of the hole it fell into last summer. PG has gained 31% since hitting its 12-month low of $59.07 on June 26.