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Despite the shares of Pandora Media Inc (NYSE:P - 9.55) losing almost 28% of their value over the past 52 weeks, option players have been honing in on the stock's call options of late. During the course of Monday's session, roughly 13,000 call contracts crossed the tape, representing nearly three times the expected daily pace. While puts were being picked up at two times their average daily volume, just 2,200 of these contracts were traded.
Option players placed bets on both their long- and short-term outlooks for P, with the January 2013 12-strike call and the September 14-strike call emerging as the day's most popular options. Nearly all of the respective 2,511 and 5,406 contracts crossed at the ask price, and the majority of contracts translated as new open interest. In other words, bullish bets were created at these strikes yesterday.
By buying the January 2013 12-strike call to open, bullish option players expect P to muscle 25% higher over the next five months, allowing them to profit with each step north of $12 the stock makes through January. The optimism is even more rampant among the shorter-term September 14-strike call traders, who project the equity to soar 46% within the next five weeks. Should P fail to topple either strike, the most the speculators have to lose is the premium paid.
Monday's affinity for calls reflects a growing trend in the options arena. While P boasts a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 2.79 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), this ratio has jumped to 3.72 in the past 10 sessions. Plus, the 10-day ratio ranks higher than 74% of similar readings taken over the previous 12 months, suggesting bullish bets have been scooped up over bearish at an accelerated clip in recent weeks.
What 's even more telling is the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR). Since July 23, P's SOIR has dropped to 0.26 from 0.44, as near-term call open interest has soared 95%. Also, this ratio is now registered in the lowest percentile of its annual range, implying short-term speculators are more call-heavy now than at any other point during the past year.
As touched upon earlier, P has lost a hefty percentage of its value on a year-over-year basis. In fact, the stock has dropped more than 63% since topping out at its all-time high of $26.00 on June 15, 2011 (the day it went public). The equity has recently found an overhead ceiling at the site of its 200-day moving average, placing the chance of a big move higher in the short term a bit out of reach.
So, why the recent rush toward P calls? Well, the Internet radio issue is tentatively scheduled to take its turn in the earnings confessional near the end of August. The company has a mixed history with its reports, but a bottom-line win in its fiscal fourth quarter prompted a 12% post-earnings pop for the stock. With short interest accounting for 26.7% of the equity's float, this uptick in call volume may simply be short sellers picking up hedges on their pessimistic positions ahead of earnings.
For P's fiscal second quarter, Wall Street is calling for a loss of three cents per share.