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Option Bulls Roll the Dice on Facebook, Inc. (FB)

Facebook Inc (FB) received a pair of price-target hikes this morning

by 3/27/2015 11:53 AM
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Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is sitting 0.4% higher around midday at $83.37, following a pair of price-target hikes. Specifically, Barclays upped its target to $98 from $88 and Baird raised its target to $96 from $93 -- never-before-seen territory -- with both firms reiterating the equivalent of a "buy" rating. Turning to the social network's options pits, call volume nearly triples put volume, and the stock's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility is up 4.1% to 31.7%, hinting at increased demand for short-term strikes.

Among the calls seeing possible buy-to-open activity are the weekly 3/27 83.50, weekly 4/2 83, and May 80 strikes. If this theory proves true, the buyers anticipate FB will settle atop the various levels at the respective expiration dates.

FB calls have been the options of choice during recent months at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). The stock's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 2.56 outranks 87% of all similar readings from the last year, suggesting speculators have been buying to open calls over puts at a faster-than-usual clip.

And why not? Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been a technical beast. Over the past 12 month, the shares have advanced 39%. Earlier this week, in fact, the stock reached a record high of $86.07.

Daily Chart of FB since March 2014


BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN) Soars, Traders Emerge

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BMRN) hit an all-time high today

by 3/27/2015 11:22 AM
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A price-target hike at Deutsche Bank sent BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:BMRN) to an all-time high of $133.54 this morning. At last check, the equity was 13.6% higher at $131.24, after the brokerage firm boosted its price target to $140 from $90, saying the company could potentially be bought out for between $194-$271 per share, pending results from various drug trials. As such, options volume has exploded, with the contracts crossing at seven times what's normally seen at this point in the day.

Among BMRN's most popular contracts today is the May 115 put, with signs pointing to buy-to-open activity. Apparently, these speculators haven't been persuaded by this morning's developments, as they're placing bets on the shares to fall below $115 by the close on Friday, May 15, when the series expires.

Today's put buying is just more of the same from BMRN's speculators. During the past two weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has accumulated a put/call volume ratio of 0.32, which ranks in the 68th percentile of its annual range. In other words, put buying has seen a slight uptick versus call buying of late.

Elsewhere, Deutsche Bank isn't the only brokerage firm with high hopes for the equity. Specifically, 13 of 16 analysts covering the stock say it's a "buy" or better.

On the charts, BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:BMRN) has been tearing it up. It's nearly doubled in value over the past 52 weeks, and its 10-week moving average acted as support in the latter half of 2014 and continues to do so into 2015.

Weekly Chart of BMRN since May 2014 with 10-Week Moving Average


Traders Busy as Ohr Pharmaceutical Inc (OHRP) Reels on Data

OHR Pharmaceutical Inc (OHRP) touched a multi-year low today

by 3/27/2015 10:50 AM
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OHR Pharmaceutical Inc (NASDAQ:OHRP) is getting bloodied up this morning, after the biotech firm's experimental eye drug fell short of its goal during a mid-stage trial. At last check, the stock was down nearly 65% at $3.08, and fresh off a multi-year low of $2.90. Shifting gears, OHRP options are flying off the shelves at 12 times the expected intraday rate.

A number of front-month calls are in the crosshairs. Specifically, the April 2.50, 10, 12.50, and 15 strikes are experiencing notable volume, with possible buy-to-open activity detected at the in-the-money strike. However, OHRP's most active option is the April 7.50 put, which is seeing a mix of buying and selling activity.

One group that's likely cheering today's technical breakdown is short sellers. Short interest on OHR Pharmaceutical Inc (NASDAQ:OHRP) grew 25% during the two most recent reporting periods, and now makes up 15.5% of the equity's total float. However, additional short selling isn't currently an option, as OHRP has been placed on the short-sale restricted list.


What's Behind This Huge SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) Trade?

It appears one SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) trader rolled down a massive put position in the quarterly 3/31 series

by 3/27/2015 10:21 AM
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Put players were active on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSEARCA:SPY) yesterday, with the contracts trading at 1.4 times the average daily rate, and outpacing calls by a 2-to-1 margin. Drilling down, our Senior VP of Research Todd Salamone noticed some interesting action at the quarterly 3/31 200- and 205-strike puts, where two symmetrical blocks of 40,000 contracts changed hands.

Drilling down, it appears as though the lower-strike puts were purchased, while the higher-strike puts were sold. Assuming this was a roll, the trader expects SPY to settle south of $200 at next Tuesday's close, when the quarterly series expires.

Salamone offered even more insight, explaining that a similarly sized block of 40,000 quarterly 3/31 205-strike puts was purchased on Feb. 17 for $2.52 apiece, and was sold yesterday for $1.71 each -- meaning the speculator may have incurred a loss. Meanwhile, he also noted that the sale of the near-the-money 205 puts appeared to have a coincident positive impact for the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSEARCA:SPY), as it occurred simultaneously with the fund's morning lows. This morning, SPY was last seen fractionally lower at $205.26.

30-Minute Chart of SPY Sine March 23


Traders Expect NXP Semiconductors N.V. (NXPI) to Bounce Back

NXP Semiconductors NV (NXPI) options traded at a breakneck speed yesterday

by 3/27/2015 9:25 AM
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On Thursday, semiconductor stocks -- including NXP Semiconductors NV (NASDAQ:NXPI) -- had another rough day. Shares of the Netherlands-based company dropped 2.6% -- and below the $100 century mark -- to close at $97.50. However, options traders kept the faith.

Looking more closely at NXPI's options pits, volume swelled to almost triple the daily norm yesterday, and calls nearly quadrupled puts. The most active strike was the May 105 call, which saw buy-to-open activity as traders rolled the dice on the stock toppling $105 by the close on Friday, May 15, when back-month options expire.

This optimism is reflected among the brokerage crowd. In fact, 11 of 12 covering analyst have given NXPI a "strong buy" rating, compared to just one "hold" and not a single "sell."

It's no wonder, either. NXP Semiconductors NV (NASDAQ:NXPI) has been a technical marvel, soaring more than 70% over the last 12 months. In fact, the security touched a record peak of $108.50 on Monday. Ahead of the bell, the shares are up 2%.


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