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Calls have picked up steam on Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT - 20.10) today, thanks to a bullish pre-earnings write-up in Barron's. Over the weekend, the financial publication noted that the stock is trading around 12.8 times estimated earnings for 2012 -- among the lowest multiple of its peers -- in the wake of a first-quarter earnings miss and a government investigation into bribery allegations. Furthermore, the article said WFT is starting to look like a bargain to some savvy speculators, and a few bulls are expecting the shares to rebound more than 50% by the end of 2013.
Ahead of tomorrow morning's earnings release, WFT has seen roughly 20,000 calls change hands -- already surpassing its expected daily volume of about 14,000 calls. Meanwhile, fewer than 5,600 WFT puts have crossed the tape so far today.
Garnering the most attention has been the security's out-of-the-money August 21 call, which has seen roughly 4,700 contracts traded -- 74% of which crossed at the ask price, pointing to buyer-driven volume. Meanwhile, implied volatility on the front-month call has powered 1.8 percentage points higher at last check, hinting at the initiation of new bullish bets.
Today's preference for calls merely echoes the growing trend, as evidenced by the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 13.02 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Compared to similar readings taken during the past year, this ratio sits just three percentage points from a 52-week peak, suggesting that speculators have rarely bought to open WFT calls over puts at a faster clip.
In the same vein, the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.27 indicates that calls more than triple puts among options slated to expire within three months. What's more, this ratio stands at an annual low, implying that short-term options traders haven't been more call-heavy on WFT at any other time during the past year.
In early afternoon trading, the shares of WFT have defied the broad-market pressure lower, adding 1.4% to wink at the $20.10 level.