Stocks quoted in this article:
The 20 stocks listed below have seen 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 stock seeing plenty of attention from the speculative crowd this afternoon is Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB).
After pegging a new record high of $55.89 in yesterday's session, Facebook Inc shares are in the red today -- at $54.49 -- after the social media giant announced plans for a secondary offering of 70 million shares. The news has prompted heavy action among options players, making FB the most active underlying equity so far today. Nearly 330,000 contracts have changed hands, representing a 26% mark-up to what is typically seen.
Much of the action is contained to the front-month series of options, which will expire at tomorrow's close. In fact, nine of the 10 most active FB strikes are in the December series. The trading here looks like a healthy jumble of calls and puts, with opening activity seen on several strikes ranging from the December 54 put to the December 56 call.
The largest single trade, however, has some time left in it. A block of 2,000 contracts changed hands at the March 2014 57.50-strike call, and went off just shy of the ask price at $3.93 apiece. Implied volatility is slightly elevated, suggesting that this block may have been purchased to open. If this is the case, the trader is spending a total of $786,000 (2,000 contracts, times the premium paid, times 100 shares represented by each option contract) to bet on further upside in the stock.
Broadening the scope, calls have been the plays of choice among option buyers of late. During the last 10 trading days on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), nearly four calls have been bought to open for every put. In fact, the call/put volume ratio of 3.74 sits just 4 percentage points away from an annual bullish peak.
Bullish speculation on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) shouldn't be a surprise, however. In 2013 alone, the stock has more than doubled in value, as evidenced by its year-to-date gain of 105%.