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Home Depot Traders Bet On a Post-Earnings Pop

HD speculators are buying calls at a rapid-fire rate

by 11/12/2012 10:15 AM
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During the past couple of weeks, option traders have upped the bullish ante on The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD - 61.28). In fact, on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators have bought to open almost twice as many HD calls as puts. What's more, the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 1.67 ranks in the 88th percentile of its annual range, suggesting option buyers are initiating bullish bets over bearish at a much faster-than-usual clip.

In the front-month series, the November 62.50 and 65 strikes have been most popular, with more than 2,500 calls added to each strike during the past 10 sessions. By purchasing the out-of-the-money calls to open, the buyers could be gambling on a post-earnings pop for HD, which is slated to unveil its third-quarter figures bright and early tomorrow. Nevertheless, the in-the-money 55 strike remains home to peak call open interest, with more than 10,600 contracts outstanding.

What's more, despite the company's looming turn in the earnings confessional, HD's short-term options may not be as expensive as you'd think. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) currently rests at 22% -- in the 38th percentile of its annual range. Or, in simpler terms, one could argue that HD's near-term options are attractively priced at current levels. Plus, the security's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard stands at 100, implying that HD options are inexpensive relative to the probability of an outsized move on the charts.

Elsewhere on Wall Street, analysts are also optimistically aligned when it comes to HD. The stock currently boasts 12 "strong buys" and one "buy" endorsement, compared to 10 lukewarm "holds" and not a single "sell" or worse suggestion. However, the average 12-month price target sits at just $61.96 -- a hair's breadth from HD's closing price of $60.96 on Friday. A stronger-than-expected earnings report tomorrow, or signs of a positive post-Sandy impact on sales, could trigger a round of upward price-target adjustments.

On the charts, the shares of HD have outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by close to 13 percentage points during the past 60 sessions. From a longer-term perspective, the stock has tacked on roughly 60% during the past year, tagging a multi-year high of $63.20 last month. Since then, the equity has consolidated its gains atop its 10-week moving average, which -- along with its 20-week cohort -- has ushered HD higher since September 2011.

Weekly Chart of HD since September 2011 With 10-Week and 20-Week Moving Averages


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