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Option players continued to exhibit a preference for puts over calls on Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOR - 25.88) Wednesday. Around 11,000 puts changed hands on the day, more than tripling the number of calls exchanged. Long-term traders turned to QCOR's April 25 put, which saw 2,046 contracts cross the tape. All of these went off at the ask price, and open interest added 1,926 positions overnight, pointing to buy-to-open activity.
By purchasing these out-of-the-money puts to open, speculators expect QCOR to fall beneath the $25 mark by April expiration. Specifically, the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of the puts was $3.44, meaning QCOR needs to backtrack roughly 17% to drop below breakeven at $21.56 (strike less VWAP) by the close on Friday, April 19.
As touched upon, yesterday's put-skewed session was just business as usual for options traders, as evidenced by data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). During the course of the past 50 sessions, speculators have scooped up 146 puts for every 100 calls on the stock. The resultant put/call volume ratio of 1.46 ranks higher than 98% of other such readings taken in the last year, suggesting puts have been bought to open over calls at a near annual-high clip in recent months.
This pessimism is understandable given the stock has shed around 56% since hitting a record high of $58.91 on July 9. More recently, QCOR been stuck trading in the $25-to-$30 range since mid-November, and has not recorded a close south of the $25 mark since Nov. 19.