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by 12/28/2000 12:53 PM
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InfoSpace (INSP – 8-13/16) provides cyber content for over 3,000 web sites, including America Online and Microsoft. The company supplies white and yellow pages as well as classified ads, stock quotes, TV listings, and other various consumer services.

INSP has displayed an insipid performance in 2000, shedding over 93 percent of its value since its early-March peak. It goes without saying that this drubbing has taken the stock below its significant intermediate- and long-term moving averages.

On the options front, speculators are heavily predisposed to the put side, which is understandable given the equity's performance of late. The site of heaviest put open interest is the in-the-money January 10 strike, home to 28,866 open contracts. In contrast, the site of heaviest call open interest is the far out-of-the-money April 60 option, which is the site of 6,215 contracts.

Today, speculators have been active on both sides of the January 10 strike. Over 5,300 contracts have traded on the call side, making this one of the most-active positions on the AMEX. Prior to today, there were only 1,868 contracts in residence at this strike, meaning that the majority of today's volume should translate into new open interest. On the put side, around 2,700 contracts have crossed the tape.

The call position saw most of its action transpire around 10:45 a.m., as a block of 4,500 contracts and a block of 500 contracts went off at the bid price. Blocks of 1,750 and 750 traded on the January 10 put earlier in the session. <

by 12/28/2000 12:46 PM
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United Parcel Service (UPS – 58-1/8) announced today that they would be raising rates for 2001. UPS managed to keep their rate hike lower than the new rates disclosed by FedEx (FDX – 38.55) on Wednesday.

Investors remain optimistic about the security as it continues to trade in the black. The stock closed back above it 10-day moving average yesterday for the first time since December 13, a day before they issuing an earnings warning. The share are 1.2 percent higher today and nine percent above a near-term low reached just four trading days ago. The stock is running head long into the 50-percent retracement of its decline from December 11 through December 21. These levels can provide resistance to rally attempts.

On the sentiment front, short interest spiked 40 percent higher from mid-November to mid-December and is at its highest level in the stock's brief history.

by 12/28/2000 12:29 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
Major Wall Street heavyweight Prudential Securities spurned two box-maker giants today, offering negative forecasts for both IBM (IBM – 84-9/16) and Dell Computer (DELL – 17-5/8). Just before 9:00 a.m. ET, Prudential reduced its fourth-quarter earnings estimates for Texas-based DELL and for Big Blue. The brokerage house also trimmed its expectations for DELL's fiscal 2002 revenue and earnings.

Prudential now looks for DELL to earn $8.29 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter, as revised from the initial estimate of $8.75 billion. This figure was previously guided lower earlier this month to $8.38 billion. Earnings-per-share estimates for DELL were reduced to 23 cents from 26 cents. For 2002, Prudential now forecasts DELL's revenue to grow by 15 percent. The analysts shaved the PC maker's earnings-per-share estimate for the year by six cents to $1.06.

On the IBM front, Prudential is keeping the earning estimate in line, but adjusted revenue expectations to $24.5 billion from $25.3 billion. Both companies are trading lower in early-afternoon activity. On a relative basis, option activity is muted on both equities.

by 12/28/2000 12:08 PM
Stocks quoted in this article:
One broad-market index that has been quietly gaining ground is the Russell 2000 (RUT - 485.89). This small-cap index is up nine percent so far this month and has regained the high ground above its critical 20-month moving average. The RUT is up another 1.3 percent today and is by far the day's top-performing broad-market index. The RUT's relative-strength measure versus the Nasdaq Composite (COMP - 2526.8) has been in a major uptrend since September and is currently at levels not seen since January 1999.<

by 12/28/2000 11:31 AM
Stocks quoted in this article:
This morning, a bevy of economic data was released, beginning with initial jobless claims. First-time claims for unemployment fell 23,000 to 333,000 for the week, although the number of people actually receiving benefits climbed. The four-week average number of people receiving benefits is the highest since late 1996.

Wall Street expected today's number to be closer to 4,000, but this news should not affect the stock or bond markets significantly. This week's figures are subject to more revisions than usual because 18 states used estimates, due to holiday closures.

November existing home sales rose 4.4-percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, after a decline of 3.1-percent in October. Wall Street expected a 1.4- percent increase, but the stronger sales are not expected to impact the market or the Fed's decision on interest rates. Lower mortgage rates may have fueled the larger-than-expected rise.

Consumer confidence has fallen to its lowest measure in two years. The index fell to 128.3 from 132.6 last month, indicating further slowing of the economy lays ahead. An even sharper decline occurred in consumers' expectations for the economy six months down the road, which is disconcerting. <

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