Stocks quoted in this article:
The 20 stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total options volume during the past 10 trading days. Names highlighted are new to the list since the last time the study was run, and data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. One name of notable interest this afternoon is Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). Dropping off the list since the last time were JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Vale SA (ADR) (NYSE:VALE).
Another day, another new annual peak for Apple Inc., which climbed to the $599.43 mark earlier -- its loftiest perch since November 2012 -- on the back of an upbeat analyst note. More recently, however, AAPL was seen lingering 1% higher at $598.24. Not surprisingly, calls are trading at a 38% mark-up to the average intraday pace, and are outstripping puts by a margin of nearly 2-to-1. All 10 of the most active options expire in the next two-plus weeks. As a result of this increased demand for short-term contracts, AAPL's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility (IV) has edged 2.2% higher to 20.1%.
The most sought-after position is AAPL's weekly 5/2 600-strike call, where 25,298 contracts have changed hands. Unlike yesterday's option players, though, a healthy portion of these calls have gone off on the ask side, hinting at buyer-driven volume. What's more, IV is up 3.2 percentage points, and volume exceeds current levels of open interest, pointing to the initiation of new long positions. The volume-weighted average price (VWAP) for the calls is $3.11, making breakeven at this Friday's close $603.11 (strike plus VWAP) -- a level not charted by AAPL since October 2012.
Meanwhile, slightly less aggressive Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) option traders are targeting the weekly 5/2 595-strike call. A number of the 12,534 contracts traded here have changed hands at the ask price, IV is up 3.1 percentage points, and volume outpaces open interest -- collectively hinting at the purchase of new positions. These calls are currently in the money, and according to the option's delta of 0.62, there is a greater than three-in-five chance the call will be perched above the strike price at the close on Friday. Risk for both sets of call buyers is limited to the initial premium paid.