Stocks quoted in this article:
Three names seeing notable option activity today amid developing news and/or unusual price action are digital coupon concern RetailMeNot Inc (NASDAQ:SALE), Chinese Internet firm SINA Corp (NASDAQ:SINA), and airline issue United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL). Here's a look at how today's option traders have been placing their bets on these three names.
- After surrendering 19% on Thursday, RetailMeNot Inc (NASDAQ:SALE) has given up another 8% to flirt with $23.22. In fact, the stock touched a new all-time low of $22.45 earlier in the session, amid lingering concerns that a tweak in Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) search algorithms could damage traffic to the site. While SALE management has downplayed the shift, Stifel Nicolaus this morning downgraded the stock to "hold" from "buy," noting that this GOOGL change "appears to be bigger than prior changes." In any event, SALE finds itself on the short-sale restricted (SSR) list, sending bears to the options pits instead. Intraday put volume is running at six times the norm, with skeptics buying to open the June 20 put. By purchasing the front-month puts, the traders expect SALE to extend its retreat into new-low territory and breach $20 by the close on Friday, June 20, when the options expire.
- SINA Corp (NASDAQ:SINA) has also continued its quest for new lows today, and remains on the SSR list. After plummeting yesterday in the wake of a poorly received earnings report, SINA fell to a fresh annual low of $42.40 this morning, but has since bounced back to trade 5.4% higher at $45.35. The security may have been due for a rebound, though, as its 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) sits in oversold territory at 25. In any event, options players are rolling the dice on an even bigger bounce for SINA, with intraday call volume running at four times the norm. Digging deeper, it appears speculators are buying to open the June 52.50 call, where the majority of contracts have traded on the ask side, and implied volatility (IV) is edging higher. By purchasing the calls to open, the buyers expect SINA to stage a significant rally over the next month, and topple $52.50 by options expiration on Friday, June 20.
- Finally, United Continental Holdings Inc (NYSE:UAL) is once again comfortably higher, up 5.1% to $44.14, to bring its week-to-date gain to nearly 9%. What's more, options players are again scrambling for UAL's short-term calls, with intraday call volume at three times the average pace. The stock's 30-day at-the-money IV is 7.6% higher at 37.5%, echoing the growing demand for short-term contracts. Aside from a spread at the June 41 and 44 calls, "vanilla" option bulls are targeting the June 40 and 46 calls. IV is higher at both strikes, and the majority of the contracts crossed on the ask side, hinting at newly bought bullish bets. The speculators are picking up the calls at a relative discount, to boot. While today's IV pop points to an increased appetite for short-term options, the stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 35% stands higher than just 16% of all other readings from the past year. In other words, UAL's front-month options are attractively priced, from a historical standpoint.