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Apollo Group Put Players Swarm as Short Selling is Restricted

APOL's February 15 put is the most-active strike in today's session

by 1/9/2013 12:20 PM
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Apollo Group Inc's (NASDAQ:APOL - 18.97) more than 8% stumble in today's session has option players upping the bearish ante. Around 14,000 puts have crossed the tape so far, representing almost 15 times the average intraday volume, and nearly double the number of calls that have traded. APOL's February 15 put has emerged as the most active strike on the day, with roughly 2,500 contracts having changed hands. The majority of these bets have gone off at the ask price, and only 125 contracts currently make up open interest at this out-of-the-money strike, suggesting new positions are being bought to open here today.

By purchasing these puts to open for a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.22, traders need APOL to slide an additional 22% from its current price by February expiration in order to breach the breakeven level of $14.78 (the strike price minus VWAP). While this seems like a steep drop for the stock, the equity's 40-day historical (realized) volatility is perched at 42%, suggesting a massive price movement by the equity is not necessarily out of the question.

As mentioned, the stock is wallowing in the red today after a drop in enrollment prompted the for-profit educational institution to downwardly revise the top end of its fiscal revenue forecast. In fact, the dramatic price drop caused short selling to be restricted on APOL, which may be prompting the rash of put activity, as traders look for an alternate way to bet bearishly on the stock.

From a longer-term perspective, today's dismal price action is just more of the same for an equity that's shed roughly 67% of its value over the past 52 weeks. Highlighting this downtrend has been APOL's 20-week moving average, which has applied pressure to the stock since early March.

Weekly Chart of APOL Since March 2012 with 20-Week Moving Average

At last check, APOL has dropped 8.8% to trade at $18.97.


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