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Options traders are rolling the dice on more upside for Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE:LVS - 53.69), with speculators showing a relatively rare appetite for short-term calls. So far today, the casino concern has seen roughly 15,000 calls cross the tape -- a 28% mark-up to its average midday call volume, and more than double the number of LVS puts exchanged.
Most popular are the March 52.25- and 55-strike calls, which have seen around 1,600 and 3,400 contracts traded, respectively. Most of the calls have traded on the ask side, and implied volatility is trending higher at both strikes, hinting at newly bought bullish bets.
More specifically, the volume-weighted average price of the 52.25-strike calls is $1.65, meaning the buyers will begin to profit if LVS muscles north of $53.90 (strike price plus VWAP) by Friday's closing bell, when March-dated options expire. Meanwhile, the VWAP of the 55-strike calls is $0.30, indicating a breakeven of $55.30 for the buyers. Risk, on the other hand, is limited to the initial premium paid for the calls.
As alluded to earlier, today's appetite for bullish bets runs counter to the growing trend seen on the major options exchanges. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.83 stands just 10 percentage points from a 52-week peak, suggesting option buyers have picked up LVS puts over calls at a much faster-than-usual clip during the past couple of weeks.
In the front-month series, the March 49.75 put has seen considerable play, with open interest soaring by more than 3,500 contracts during the past 10 sessions. Nevertheless, the March 52.25 strike remains home to peak put open interest in the soon-to-expire series, with close to 18,000 contracts outstanding. This week, the abundance of bearish bets here could translate into an options-related foothold for LVS.
At last check, the shares of LVS have added 2.6% to wink at the $53.69 level, bringing their month-to-date gain to 4.3%. What's more, shareholders have seemingly shrugged off a recently disclosed internal review from Las Vegas Sands, which indicated the company likely violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.