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Bullish Groupon Bettors Look for a Quick Profit

GRPN sees a surge in weekly call volume

by 1/2/2013 2:18 PM
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Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN - 4.95) is seeing an uptick in bullish options activity today, as roughly 22,000 calls have crossed the tape so far -- more than doubling the equity's expected intraday call volume. By contrast, just over 3,100 puts have been exchanged. Garnering notable attention has been the 1/4 4-strike call, where close to 4,100 contracts have traded at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $1.02.

Taking a closer look at the data, it appears that about half of these calls changed hands at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Because this option currently holds open interest of just 430 contracts -- along with the fact that implied volatility has soared nearly 76 percentage points during the course of the session -- it can be assumed that new positions are being added here. By purchasing the calls to open, traders are betting on the stock to rise north of $5.02 (strike price plus the VWAP) prior to Friday's close, which is when these weekly options expire.

This campaign for calls over puts is nothing new for the daily deals company. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 4.36 for GRPN, confirming calls bought to open have more than quadrupled puts during the past few months. In fact, this ratio is just three percentage points away from a bullish 52-week peak, meaning traders have been snapping up calls over puts at a near annual-high pace.

However, it should also be noted that while short interest on GRPN declined by more than 10% during the most recent reporting period, these bearish bets still account for a lofty 22% of the equity's available float. In other words, some of the aforementioned buy-to-open call activity could be the result of hedging activity by short sellers.

GRPN hasn't fared well on a technical basis, having surrendered more than 76% during the past year. However, the stock has gained more than 90% since tagging an annual low of $2.60 on Nov. 12. Today's weekly bulls are likely expecting this positive price action to continue through the end of the week.


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