Stocks quoted in this article:
Of the 20 equities seeing the heaviest options volume in recent sessions, three names of notable interest this afternoon are Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C), and Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F). Here is a quick look at today's interesting activity in these options pits.
Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) continues to bask in the glow of its well-received earnings report, with the stock up 1.2% today to trade at $23.66. The equity has now climbed nearly 8% since unveiling its first-quarter results on April 16. One group of speculators in today's session is betting on INTC to run out of steam over the next eight weeks, and is picking up the stock's June 23 put for a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.66. The majority of the 5,931 contracts traded thus far have crossed at the ask price, and volume is outstripping open interest, pointing to buy-to-open activity. In order for these out-of-the-money puts to be profitable, INTC must fall south of the $22.34 mark (strike price less VWAP) by the close on June 21 -- when back-month options expire. The options market is giving the put a roughly 2-in-5 chance of landing in the money by expiration, as delta for the option is docked at negative 0.39, or 39%. Should Intel fail to breach the strike price over the next two months, the most today's put buyers will surrender is the initial cash outlay.
Meanwhile, Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) traders are eyeing some end-of-the-week gains. The equity's weekly 4/26 48-strike call is one of the more popular positions, where 5,635 contracts have traded, mostly at the ask price. With implied volatility up 1 percentage point, and only 481 contracts currently residing here, it's safe to assume that new bullish positions are being created. The VWAP for the out-of-the-money calls is $0.11, making breakeven $48.11, or 2.1% above the stock's present level at $47.11. Today's optimistic outlook diverges from the bearishly skewed bias seen in Citigroup's options pits of late. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.76 ranks higher than 79% of other such readings taken in the past year. In other words, puts have been bought to open over calls at a near annual-high clip in recent weeks.
Investors initially cheered Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) early morning earnings beat, and the excitement pushed the stock to an intraday peak of $13.54 right out of the gate. The move higher prompted some speculators to exit their bullish bets ahead of expiration. Roughly 3,700 May 13 calls have crossed the tape today, the majority of which have done so at the bid price. With implied volatility down 7 percentage points, it appears that a number of these positions have been sold to close for a VWAP of $0.41 per contract. The buying power has since depleted, however, and F was last seen 0.5% lower at $13.30. Given that the stock has shed roughly 7.6% since tagging a year-to-date high of $14.30 in mid-January, the withstanding trend among traders is toward puts. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.88 ranks in the highest percentile reading of its annual range, meaning short-term speculators are more put-heavy now toward F than at any other time within the past year.
The 20 stocks below have attracted the highest options volume -- in the front three-months' series -- during the past 10 trading days. The companies highlighted are those that are new to the list since the last time the study was run. Data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White.