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Volume is well ahead of the normal pace in General Motors Company's (NYSE:GM) options pits. So far, 58,000 contracts -- nearly three times the typical intraday amount -- have changed hands. Several strikes have garnered notable attention, including the November 36 call and 32 put, as well as the December 37 call. Collectively, these strikes account for over half the session's volume so far.
Although calls outstrip puts on an absolute basis today -- specifically, by a count of 36,000 contracts to 22,000 -- on a relative basis, speculators of late have been more inclined than usual toward puts. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), GM's 10-day put/call volume of 0.72 ranks in the 92nd percentile of its annual range. In other words, during the past 52 weeks, traders have bought to open puts over calls with greater rapidity just 8% of the time.
In a similar vein, the Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for General Motors stands at 0.96 right now, with put and call open interest roughly neck-and-neck among options expiring in three months or less. Historically speaking, however, the SOIR is at an annual acme, which means short-term traders have never been so put-skewed during the previous 12 months.
Elsewhere, short interest currently accounts for nearly 9% of GM's total outstanding float. In fact, short interest -- at 79.2 million shares -- is just a stone's throw away from the multi-year high of 83.5 million shares sold short in mid-June. Summing it all up, the sentiment picture on the automaker is extremely bearish -- though the shares did receive a price-target hike to $49 from $48 at Barclays this morning -- despite the stock's 40%-plus annual gain to $35.12.
Finally, on the fundamental front, European new car registrations for General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) gained 5.3% year-over-year for the month of September. Also, coming up on Wednesday, Oct. 30, is the Detroit-based manufacturer's third-quarter earnings release. Wall Street is calling for a per-share profit of 93 cents -- matching results from the year-ago period. GM has topped its consensus bottom-line estimates in six of the past eight quarters.
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