Stocks quoted in this article:
Three of today's most actively traded names among options players are Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO - 17.02), Baidu, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU - 104.46), and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM - 41.05). Here is a brief look at some notable activity we are seeing in these option pits today.
Despite being lowered to "neutral" from "overweight" at JPMorgan earlier today, CSCO is up more than 1% in today's trading, paring its year-to-date loss to just under 6%. Meanwhile, ahead of the networking company's earnings report on Tuesday, speculators are trading the front-month, 17-strike call. This at-the-money position has seen more than 4,800 contracts change hands, which is far short of existing open interest. Nearly two-thirds of the trades have gone off at the ask price, however, and implied volatility is higher on the day, suggesting these calls could be on the opening side, expressing the belief that CSCO will rally through the end of next week.
BIDU is also in positive territory today, which may be inspiring some activity in the options pits. The weekly 105-strike call -- which expires in a few hours -- has seen nearly 3,800 contracts trade today, versus open interest of just under 1,600. The majority of this volume has traded off the ask price, suggesting some speculators may be picking up very short-term long calls in hopes of turning a last-minute profit on a continued press higher in the shares. This at-the-money call has traded for an average price of $0.33 per contract today, and is currently bid at $0.38.
Also in the green today is JPM, which is up a solid 23% in 2012. Weekly option buyers are focused on the 40.5-strike call, which headed into today's section with open interest of 955 contracts, but has seen almost 2,400 calls cross the tape during the first half of the session. The lion's share of this action has transpired at the ask price, suggesting the calls have been bought to open. For this call to be profitable when the closing bell sounds this afternoon, JPM will need to be trading above $40.89 (the strike price plus the average premium).
The 20 stocks below have attracted the highest options volume -- in the front three-months' series -- during the past two weeks. Data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White.