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Option bulls are targeting Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB - 31.18) today, in both "vanilla" and non-traditional ways. In afternoon trading, the social networking concern has seen roughly 270,000 calls change hands -- about three times its average intraday call volume. Likewise, around 160,000 puts have crossed the tape, nearly tripling the norm.
On the call side, the January 2013 31 strike has attracted the most attention, with more than 20,000 contracts exchanged at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.84. The majority of the calls have crossed at the ask price, and implied volatility was last seen 5.4 percentage points higher, hinting at buy-to-open activity.
By purchasing the calls to open, the buyers are expecting FB to conquer the $31.84 level (strike plus VWAP) by the close on Friday, Jan. 18 -- just three days before the company's mysterious media event. However, even if FB lingers south of this level through expiration, the most the buyers stand to lose is the premium paid at initiation.
On the put side, investors are establishing new positions at the January 2013 30 strike, where nearly 21,800 contracts have traded on open interest of fewer than 10,400 puts. However, 82% of the puts have crossed at the bid price, suggesting they were sold.
By writing the puts to open, the sellers are expecting FB to remain north of $30 through January options expiration. In this best-case scenario, the puts will expire worthless, and the sellers can retain the entire premium received from the sale.
At last check, FB has tacked on 1.9% to wink at the $31.18 level. The stock has rocketed a whopping 77.7% since tagging a post-IPO low of $17.55 roughly four months ago, and has outperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by nearly 52 percentage points during the past 60 sessions.