Stocks quoted in this article:
The 20 stocks in the table below have attracted the highest options volume -- in the front three-months' series -- during the past five trading days. The companies highlighted are those new to the list since the last time the study was run. Data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Three names of notable interest this afternoon are Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).
The iPhone cat is out of the bag at Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). As of Sept. 20, consumers will have two new choices for the popular smartphone -- a cheaper, more colorful model (the iPhone 5C) and the iPhone 5S, which runs twice as quickly as its immediate predecessor. The stock is continuing to trend in the red, but call volume is elevated, running at a 53% mark-up to what's typically seen. A slew of weekly calls expiring this Friday have taken the top five most active slots, led by the weekly 9/13 510-strike call.
Elsewhere, Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) -- recently targeted by option bulls -- is seeing heavy trading action around its September 23 call, where nearly 25,000 options have traded, including three blocks of roughly 4,000 contracts. apiece Given the existing open interest of 112,000 contracts, this is likely a mix of buying and selling activity. Finally, here is a look at some interesting activity transpiring today on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).
After hitting a new annual high of $44.79 in yesterday's trading, Facebook Inc is taking a breather today, down 1.2% at $43.52. Continuing to see attention in the social networking concern's options pits is the September 46 call, and much of the action may once again be the work of traders calling a short-term top in the shares.
Ninety percent of the more than 17,500 calls trading at this out-of-the-money strike have changed hands at the bid price, signifying they were sold. Implied volatility has ticked 1.1 percentage points higher, however, and data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE) indicates that at least some of these calls were sold to open for a volume-weighted average price of $0.38. If FB doesn't manage to rally 5.7% over the next eight-plus sessions, these calls will stay out of the money and expire worthless, allowing the call sellers to keep the premium collected as profit.
On the flip side, if FB powers above its all-time peak of $45 to take out $46, the sellers will likely be assigned. At this point, they would be required to deliver FB shares -- 100 for every call contract sold -- for a price of $46 apiece, no matter how high the stock is trading.
Currently, with the stock slumping in afternoon trading, delta on this call stands at 0.18, down from 0.28 Monday night. In other words, the options market presently thinks there is a less than 1-in-5 chance that FB will be trading north of $46 by the close on Sept. 20. In 2013 alone, though, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has gained nearly 63%, and is up more than 130% over the last 12 months.