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Unusual Put Activity on BSX, STP, NOV, and CAT

Premium sellers swarmed BSX, STP was the center of a spread, and put buyers bombarded NOV and CAT

by 12/1/2011 9:55 AM
Stocks quoted in this article:

Among the equities attracting put players on Wednesday were solar concern Suntech Power Holdings Co., Ltd. (STP - 2.29), medical device maker Boston Scientific Corporation (BSX - 5.91), blue-chip bigwig Caterpillar Inc. (CAT - 97.60), and oil issue National-Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NOV - 72.01). Here's a quick roundup of some of the most popular put trades of the day:

  • First up, STP muscled higher yesterday, after analysts at Auriga upgraded the stock to "hold" from "sell," and tripled their price target to $3. Nevertheless, the security saw more than 5,000 puts change hands -- about four times the norm. Digging deeper, it appears one speculator constructed a synthetic short stock position on the equity, by buying 1,000 puts and selling 1,000 calls at the January 2012 4 strike.
  • Meanwhile, BSX also jumped into the black, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its new implantable defibrillators. As such, it appears a slew of options players employed puts to bet on short-term support for the security. Specifically, put open interest at the December 5 strike soared by almost 2,200 contracts overnight, though 95% of the contracts traded at the bid price, suggesting they were sold. By writing the puts to open, the sellers are hoping the contracts stay out of the money through options expiration, allowing them to pocket the initial premium received from the sale.
  • Moving on, despite its status as one of the Dow's top performers of the day, CAT attracted a few short-term bears. Most notably, the equity's out-of-the-money weekly 95-strike put saw around 6,400 contracts change hands -- mostly at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Furthermore, put open interest at the near-term strike jumped overnight, indicating a batch of new positions. By purchasing the weekly puts to open, the buyers are expecting CAT to retreat beneath the $95 level before the close of trading tomorrow, when the options expire.
  • Finally, despite following crude futures into the black, NOV was popular among the option bears. Garnering the most attention was the out-of-the-money December 65 put, which saw open interest climb by more than 2,500 contracts overnight. Plus, most of the puts crossed the tape at the ask price, hinting at buyer-initiated activity. Again, by purchasing the puts to open, the buyers are rolling the dice on a short-term retreat for NOV.


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