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Option volume accelerated on OpenTable Inc (NASDAQ:OPEN - 49.78) on Thursday, trading at more than nine times the average daily volume. Short-term speculators bucked the withstanding bearish trend, and placed bets that OPEN would have a solid showing in the earnings confessional last night. OPEN's February 52.50 and 55 calls emerged as two of the day's more active strikes, where a collective 3,099 contracts crossed. A healthy portion at each strike went off at the ask price, implied volatility ticked higher, and open interest rose overnight, suggesting a portion of yesterday's activity was of the buy-to-open variety.
By purchasing the out-of-the-money February 52.50 calls for a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $1.41, traders will profit with each step north of $53.91 (strike price plus VWAP) OPEN takes through the close on Friday, Feb. 15, when front-month options expire. Meanwhile, the deeper out-of-the-money February 55 calls will become profitable should the stock topple the $55.71 mark (strike plus VWAP of $0.71) by expiration. Moves of this magnitude require a respective 8.3% and 11.9% jump from OPEN's current perch.
As mentioned, option traders have been more bearishly aligned toward OPEN in recent months, per data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). The stock's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 1.33 ranks higher than 85% of other such annual readings, indicating puts have been bought to open over calls at a faster-than-usual clip throughout the past 10 weeks.
Echoing this is OPEN's rising Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR). Since Jan. 22, the stock's SOIR has climbed to 1.00 from 0.87, as near-term put open interest jumped 170%. This ratio now ranks in the 93rd percentile of its annual range, implying short-term speculators have rarely been more put-heavy toward the stock.
On the charts, OPEN has been stair-stepping its way higher since hitting an annual low of $33.53 in early August. More recently, the stock pulled back to its 60-day moving average, after tagging a 52-week peak of $55.95 on Jan. 24. The equity managed to find a foothold atop this trendline, which previously served as support in October and December.
OPEN has resumed its uptrend in today's session, after the online reservationist's quarterly results came in above expectations. At last check, OPEN was up 1% to trade near $49.78. Should the stock fail to topple the aforementioned breakeven levels by next Friday's close, the most Thursday's call buyers have risked is the initial premium paid.