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Spread Trader Targets a Rebound in Teva Pharmaceutical

Drug stock TEVA has swallowed steep losses during the month of May

by 5/21/2012 11:54 AM
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Call volume is unusually heavy today on Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA - 38.94), with roughly 13,000 contracts crossing the tape before midday. This represents approximately two times the equity's expected intraday call activity. Taking a closer look at the day's major trades, it looks as though one speculator initiated a long call spread on the drug company.

Specifically, three blocks totaling 4,000 contracts traded near the ask price on TEVA's September 42.50 call, while three symmetrical blocks simultaneously changed hands near the bid on the September 45 call. In other words, this appears to be the initiation of a bullish debit spread, with the trader counting on TEVA to finish at or above $45 by the time September-dated options expire.

This optimistically slanted option strategy is a deviation from the norm for TEVA, as the stock has garnered a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.62 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio arrives in the 74th annual percentile, indicating that traders have purchased puts over calls at a rapid pace in recent weeks.

It's also worth noting that short interest on TEVA spiked by 15.7% over the past two reporting periods. In light of this development, it's possible that today's spread player is actually a short seller looking to hedge a bearish positions on the stock. However, this type of "hedge" is risky, as the speculator stands to lose out on both ends of the trade if TEVA rallies above $45 prior to September expiration.

It's been a rough ride on the charts lately, as the stock has shed nearly 15% of its value during the month of May. TEVA gapped below its 120-day moving average on May 9 following a poorly received earnings report, and the shares failed to benefit last week when the FDA approved its generic version of Plavix. In today's trading, TEVA spent the first half of the session wobbling around breakeven.

Daily Chart of TEVA since November 2011 With 120-Day Moving Average


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