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Spread Player Calls for Short-Term Rally in Chipotle Mexican Grill

CMG was the subject of a front-month call spread on Tuesday

by 12/19/2012 10:11 AM
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Is Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG - 292.51) set to trek higher through the end of the week? One options trader certainly seems to think so, judging by a bullish spread strategy that crossed the tape during Tuesday's session. The spread was constructed using front-month options, which are due to expire after the close this Friday, Dec. 21 -- giving CMG just a few days to live up to this optimistic forecast.

Specifically, several large blocks totaling 900 contracts traded at the ask price on CMG's December 300 call, while an equivalent number of December 305 calls simultaneously crossed at the bid price. This indicates the lower-strike calls were purchased, while the higher-strike calls were sold. Open interest rose at both strikes overnight, confirming the initiation of new contracts.

In other words, this trader appears to have opened a long call spread on CMG. In this strategy, the best-case scenario is for the stock to close at or above the strike price of the sold call upon expiration. This will return the maximum potential profit on the purchased call -- which is equal to the difference between the two strikes, less the initial net debit.

On the charts, CMG just broke out above resistance at its 80-day moving average. The stock's surge above this trendline could clear the path for a continued move higher during the near term, particularly if short sellers are spooked by the recent breakout. Currently, more than 13% of the restaurant chain's float is sold short -- which is more than enough sideline cash to spark a significant short-squeeze rally.

 Daily Chart of CMG since June 2012 With 80-Day Moving Average


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