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. Three names of notable interest this afternoon are Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).
Apple Inc. is enjoying some analyst-induced tailwinds today, prompting upbeat option traders to buy (to open) the stock's weekly 10/25 520-strike calls. Meanwhile, ahead of Microsoft Corporation's Thursday evening turn in the earnings confessional, investors appear to be picking up put protection in the November series. Finally, short-term Google Inc speculators are expecting the stock to extend its lead over the psychologically significant millennium mark.
Google Inc ran to its highest level on record today, hitting the $1,019 mark right out of the gate. The equity has since erased these gains, and was last seen 0.5% lower at $1,006.63. In GOOG's options pits, overall activity has accelerated by 32% over the average intraday pace. As such, GOOG's 30-day, at-the-money implied volatility (IV) has moved 1.1 percentage points higher, or 5.6%, to 20.5%. Calls are winning the numbers race, with around 40,000 of these contracts crossing the tape thus far, compared to roughly 30,000 puts. All 10 of the most active strikes expire at Friday's close, and one group in particular expects the security to rally an additional 4.3% by week's end.
More than 1,700 weekly 10/25 1050-strike calls have crossed the tape, the majority of which have done so on the ask side, IV is up 7.4 percentage points, and volume is outstripping open interest, pointing to buy-to-open activity. As this strike represents uncharted territory for GOOG, delta for the call is docked at 0.088, suggesting a less than 9% chance the option will land in the money during its short life span. Should the stock fail to topple the strike price, the most the traders stand to lose is the volume-weighted average price of $2.50 per contract.
Outside of Google Inc's (NASDAQ:GOOG) options arena, pessimism has been growing on the stock. Short interest surged 43.6% throughout the last two reporting periods, and now accounts for 5.39 million shares -- the loftiest level since October 2011. In light of this, some of today's activity surrounding the out-of-the-money strike could be short sellers hedging against any additional upside.