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Starbucks Option Bears Project an Epic Collapse

Deep out-of-the-money puts active in SBUX

by 12/21/2012 2:18 PM
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Some very aggressive bearish speculators have turned their attention toward Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX - 53.36) today, and are calling for the stock to have a dramatic pullback over the next few months. Overall, put volume is running circles around call volume today. Roughly 11,000 puts have changed hands, outpacing typical intraday trading volume by 33%, and more than doubling the number of calls crossing the tape.

Currently, the most active option is the April 25 put, which came into the session with essentially no open interest but has seen close to 1,600 contracts cross the tape. Implied volatility is up nearly 6 percentage points, and 90% of the volume has traded at the ask price, indicating potential buy-to-open orders.

The average premium paid for these puts was $0.05, making breakeven at expiration $24.95. SBUX has not visited this region in more than two years, and in fact has been in an impressive long-term uptrend since mid-2009. In other words, these out-of-the-money put purchases are notably aggressive. On the other hand, the most put buyers stand to lose -- should the options expire worthless in mid-April -- is 100% of the premium paid.


Spanning back a bit, SBUX put volume has been accumulating at a faster-than-usual pace of late. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), investors have bought to open 79 puts for every 100 calls during the last 50 trading days. While calls still have majority rule, this put/call volume ratio of 0.79 is higher than 86% of the past year's worth of readings.


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