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Option bears are circling Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO - 12.11) this morning, with speculators scooping up short-term put contracts. Already today, the videogame maker has seen roughly 3,600 puts cross the tape -- about 38 times its average intraday volume.
Most of the action has transpired at the February 14 put, which has seen close to 2,600 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 20 contracts, pointing to a heap of new positions. Plus, 69% of the puts have changed hands at the ask price, suggesting they were bought.
More specifically, the puts have traded at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $2.03, meaning the buyers will make money if TTWO breaches the $11.97 level (strike minus VWAP) by the closing bell on Friday, Feb. 15, when front-month options expire. However, even if TTWO muscles atop the strike, the investors' maximum risk is the initial premium paid for the puts.
Broadening our sentiment horizons, we find that today's appetite for bearish bets marks a change of pace in the options arena. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open more than 14 calls for every put during the past two weeks. In fact, the equity's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 14.48 ranks in the 65th percentile of its annual range, suggesting option buyers are picking up calls at a slightly faster-than-usual clip.
As a result, the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) now rests at 0.30, indicating that calls more than triple puts among options slated to expire within three months. What's more, this ratio stands higher than just 28% of comparable readings from the past year, implying that near-term options players are more call-biased than usual right now.
At last check, TTWO has shed 7.4% to linger in the $12.11 area, after the firm delayed the global launch of Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox 360, "in order to allow more development time." The game, initially expected to hit stores last year, was scheduled to debut this spring, but will now launch Sept. 17. As such, the stock is in danger of ending south of its 10-day and 20-day moving averages for the first time in 2013.