Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) Option Bulls Keep the Faith

Buy-to-open call activity has been growing in popularity on Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) in recent weeks

by Karee Venema

Published on Jul 1, 2015 at 2:40 PM

Crude is notably lower today, after the weekly inventories update showed supplies unexpectedly rose. This has oil-and-gas issue Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) plunging, with the equity off 5.6% at $10.55, after earlier hitting a new six-year low of $10.53. This only echoes the stock's withstanding technical trajectory, though, with shares of CHK shedding almost 64% of their value over the past 12 months -- and teetering dangerously close to single-digit territory for the first time since December 2008.

In spite of these long-term technical troubles, option traders have shown a growing appetite for long calls over puts in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), CHK's 10-day call/put volume ratio has jumped to 2.28 from 1.39 over the past two weeks, and now sits in the 64th percentile of its annual range.

Drilling down on the front-month series -- which expires at the close on Friday, July 17 -- peak call open interest is currently found at the 13 strike, where almost 59,000 contracts reside. Since mid-April, specifically, 8,132 calls have been bought to open at this out-of-the-money (OOTM) strike at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, meaning traders are anticipating CHK to be sitting north of $13 at expiration.

Given the stock's steady decline, it's possible some of the activity here -- and at other OOTM strikes -- is a result of short sellers hedging their bearish bets against any unexpected upside. Short interest popped 17% in the latest reporting period, and now accounts for almost 25% of CHK's float, or 162.1 million shares -- the loftiest amount in at least 13 years.

Regardless, those currently purchasing Chesapeake Energy Corporation's (NYSE:CHK) near-term options are in luck. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 47% rests lower than 66% of all similar readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, premium on CHK's short-term options is pricing in relatively deflated volatility expectations.

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