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Put volume was unusually heavy on Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA - 2.37) last Friday, with approximately 10,000 contracts crossing the tape -- representing 1.76 times the stock's average daily activity. However, not all of the day's put players were placing bearish bets on ZNGA. The most popular option was the January 2014 1.50-strike put, and it looks as though most of these long-term contracts were sold to open.
Specifically, a total of 5,857 contracts traded at this LEAPS strike, with 98% changing hands closer to the bid price. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE) confirms most of these puts were sold to open, with open interest rising over the weekend by 5,757 contracts.
By selling to open these 1.50-strike puts, options players are betting ZNGA will remain at or above $1.50 through January 2014 expiration, which is just over a year away. The puts traded at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.19, and the premium collected on the contracts also represents the maximum potential profit on the play. Put sellers won't begin to lose money unless ZNGA dips below breakeven at $1.31 (strike price less VWAP), but assignment is a risk on any move below $1.50.
The Wall Street newcomer has had a rough ride on the charts in 2012, with the stock off more than 75% as of Friday's close. However, ZNGA has bounced back since bottoming around the $2 level in mid-November, with the shares up 1.7% at last check.