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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 Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), and Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU).
Yahoo! Inc. is popular among put traders today, despite its earning a price-target hike late Tuesday. Put volume is running at nearly two times the normal pace, and most active are the October 30 and 31 puts, which are seeing a mix of buying and selling. Also notable is YHOO's 30-day, at-the-money (ATM) implied volatility (IV), which has surged to a new annual high. Elsewhere, Micron Technology, Inc. pits are active as the company prepares to release earnings after tomorrow's close. MU's respective 30-day, ATM IV reading has also hit a 52-week peak, and today's total option volume so far is 33% greater than an average trading day. Much of the volume has changed hands at the near-the-money October 18 call. Finally, here is a look at some interesting weekly option activity transpiring on Tesla Motors Inc.
As TSLA continues to manage the fallout from last week's highly publicized Model S fire, options players are placing short-term speculative bets. At last check, 91,000 puts and 93,000 calls had changed hands, collectively doubling expected intraday option volume. Meanwhile, the stock's 30-day, ATM IV has zoomed up 3.2% today to 71.9%. As a point of comparison, this same measure stood at 50.5% on Sept. 27.
Many of today's TSLA speculators do not have a long-term commitment in mind. In fact, 9 of the top 10 most active Tesla Motors options trading today expire at Friday's close. Leading the charge is the weekly 10/11 170-strike call, where more than 14,000 contracts have traded on open interest of just 949. This factor -- together with IV at the strike, which has spiked 3.6 percentage points -- suggests that new calls are being opened. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE) reveals that the orders are coming through on both the buy-to-open and sell-to-open sides.
Today's largest block at this strike, for example, consisted of 364 contracts trading off the ask price (at the time) of $2.05. Assuming these were bought to open, the speculator is hoping to see TSLA -- currently perched at $167.66 -- retake the 170 strike by Friday's close. More specifically, the option will be in profitable territory once TSLA overcomes $172.05 (the strike price plus the premium paid). If Tesla shares fail to rebound, the investors have merely surrendered the premium paid to enter the trade.
On the sell side, one case is a trio of mid-sized blocks that changed hands around 10:30 a.m. ET for the corresponding bid price of $2.60 per contract. If TSLA remains south of $170 when the closing bell rings Friday, these calls will expire worthless, and the call writers will keep the $2.60 credit collected as profit. Should TSLA rally higher, call sellers risk being assigned, and may be forced to deliver TSLA shares at a price of $170 apiece, regardless of what the market price is at the time.
On the charts, TSLA is flirting with its 10-week moving average, which has supported all weekly closes in the shares since late March. Even factoring in the stock's recent pullback, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has nearly quadrupled in 2013.