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Speculative investors have adopted a bearish stance on Nike, Inc. (NYSE:NKE - 97.72) lately, with put options enjoying a surge in popularity over their call counterparts. On Monday alone, options traders bought to open 3,211 puts on NKE, according to volume data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Meanwhile, only 414 calls were purchased, netting the stock a single-day put/call volume ratio of 7.76 across all three exchanges.
From a broader perspective, NKE has racked up a 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 3.31, as puts bought to open have more than tripled calls over the past couple of weeks. This ratio registers in the 92nd percentile of its annual range, suggesting that speculative players have rarely shown a greater preference for bearish bets over bullish.
The skeptical skew is also clearly evident among short-term traders, with NKE's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) checking in at 1.45. This ratio ranks above 71% of other such readings taken over the past 52 weeks, indicating that near-term options players are more put-heavy than usual.
NKE shares haven't exactly set the world on fire in 2012, with the stock up just about 1% since the start of the year. More recently, the security has been stifled by resistance in the $98-$100 area, which shows no signs of weakening just yet. Meanwhile, peak put open interest of 5,461 contracts can be found at the December 100 strike -- suggesting that quite a few bears expect NKE to remain pinned below the century level over the near term.