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Option traders are targeting railroad concern CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX - 21.60) today, with both puts and calls exchanging at an accelerated clip. In early afternoon action, CSX has seen roughly 8,000 calls and 6,400 puts cross the tape, compared to its average intraday volume of about 1,400 calls and 800 puts.
On the call side, it looks like a few eleventh-hour bettors are gambling on a quick rebound for CSX. Most popular has been the September 22.50 call, which has seen more than 3,300 contracts traded -- mostly at the ask price, pointing to buyer-driven volume. Plus, implied volatility on the soon-to-expire call was last seen 27.6 percentage points higher, hinting at new initiations.
By purchasing the calls to open, the buyers are expecting CSX to muscle back atop the $22.50 level by tomorrow's closing bell, when September-dated options expire. More specifically, the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of the calls is $0.05, meaning the investors will profit if CSX rebounds north of $22.55 (strike plus premium paid) by the end of the week.
On the flip side, the option bears have taken a shine to the October 20 put, which has seen more than 2,300 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 1,600, indicating new initiations. Plus, the bulk of the puts have changed hands at the ask price -- again, pointing to buy-to-open action.
Digging even deeper, the out-of-the-money puts have crossed at a VWAP of $0.17. As such, the put buyers will reap a reward if CSX breaches the $19.83 level (strike minus premium paid) within the next several weeks. For the record, the stock hasn't finished a session south of $20 since late October.
Even before today's sector headwinds hit CSX, options traders were scooping up puts at a faster-than-usual pace. In fact, on 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 0.63 stands higher than 70% of all other readings of the past year.
However, that's not to say that there aren't any bulls reeling in the wake of today's pullback. Before today, CSX boasted 16 "strong buys" and one "buy" rating from analysts, compared to seven middling "holds" and just one "sell" or worse suggestion. Plus, despite the growing appetite for puts, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) sits at 0.53 -- in the ninth percentile of its annual range. Or, simply put, short-term speculators are still more call-heavy than usual.
At last check, CSX has backpedaled 5.2% to explore the $21.60 vicinity.
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