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Pre-Earnings Traders Scoop Up SodaStream International Ltd (SODA) Puts

However, one speculator constructs a bull put spread on SODA

by 2/19/2013 1:46 PM
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Put activity has ramped up on SodaStream International Ltd (NASDAQ:SODA - 51.32) today, as the company prepares to report fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow morning. Nearly 7,400 of these contracts have crossed the tape so far, which is more than triple the equity's expected intraday volume. A large portion of the action has centered around the front-month series options, with the March 40 and 42.50 puts seeing about 2,700 and 2,400 contracts exchanged, respectively.

Upon closer inspection of the data, it looks as though a block of 1,383 puts was traded at the March 40 strike for an ask price of $0.73 each, while an equal number of puts simultaneously changed hands at the March 42.50 strike at the bid price of $0.93 each -- yielding a net credit of $0.20 per pair of contracts. By initiating what appears to be a bull put spread, the speculator is expecting SODA to remain north of $42.50 through front-month expiration -- rendering both options worthless, and allowing him to pocket the net credit received, which represents the maximum profit on the play. However, the trader will reap some kind of reward as long as SODA stays atop the $42.30 level (sold strike minus net credit). Conversely, his potential risk is capped at $2.30, or the difference between the strike prices, minus the net credit.

This surge in put volume is somewhat rare for the home beverage maker, according to data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). In fact, traders on these exchanges have bought to open more than eight calls for every put during the past two weeks. The resultant 10-day call/put volume ratio of 8.14 ranks higher than 67% of other such readings collected within the past year, reflecting a healthier-than-usual appetite for calls over puts -- and suggesting neutral-to-bullish option traders are also employing more "vanilla" strategies to gamble on SODA.

The security is off to a promising start in 2013, boasting a year-to-date gain of more than 14%. What's more, SODA has bested the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by close to 35 percentage points during the last three months. Meanwhile, the shares have recovered almost 55% since touching a November low of $33.15.

As previously noted, SODA is on tap to reveal quarterly earnings ahead of Wednesday's opening bell, and has trumped consensus bottom-line estimates in three of the past four quarters. Analysts are currently expecting a profit of 39 cents per share. Should the company pull off another positive earnings surprise, the aforementioned put spread will likely stay out of the money.


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