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J.C. Penney Jump Jolts Short-Term Option Traders

JCP traders are targeting weekly options

by 1/29/2013 2:13 PM
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Option traders are jumping on J.C. Penney Company, Inc. (NYSE:JCP - 20.77) today, with both bulls and bears gambling on the retailer's end-of-week trajectory. In afternoon trading, JCP has seen about 48,000 calls and 43,000 puts change hands, roughly tripling its average intraday volume of around 15,000 calls and 16,000 puts.

Most popular has been the weekly 2/1 20-strike put, which has seen more than 7,600 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 300 contracts, pointing to an influx of new initiations. Furthermore, the majority of the puts have traded on the ask side, suggesting they were bought.

By purchasing the puts at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.30, the buyers expect JCP to backpedal south of $19.70 (strike minus VWAP) by the closing bell on Friday, when weekly options expire. However, even if the stock extends today's uptrend -- sparked by the company's plans to bring back sales promotions -- the most the buyers can lose is the premium paid at initiation.

On the flip side, bulls are picking up the weekly 2/1 20-strike call, which has seen close to 4,600 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 3,700. Again, the bulk of the calls have crossed at the ask price, pointing to buyer-driven volume. By buying the calls at a VWAP of $0.72, the traders will make money if JCP conquers the $20.72 level (strike plus VWAP) -- a feat already accomplished in afternoon activity.

In fact, JCP was last seen 8.1% higher in the $20.77 region, after topping out at $21.12 earlier in the session. As such, the stock is on pace to end atop its 60-day moving average for the first time since late October.


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