Pre-Earnings Optimism Builds on Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA)

Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) will report second-quarter earnings after Wednesday's close

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 4, 2015 at 11:01 AM
Updated on Aug 4, 2015 at 11:06 AM

It's been a volatile earnings season for a number of notable names, including Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX). This activity could continue later this week, when electric car concern -- and historical post-earnings mover -- Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) takes its turn in the earnings confessional tomorrow evening.

In fact, over the past eight quarters, TSLA has averaged an 8.1% swing in the session subsequent to reporting, including several double-digit percentage moves. This time around, the options market is pricing in a 7.8% move, based on the stock's near-term at-the-money (ATM) straddle. Meanwhile, it's a coin toss as to which direction this action is expected to resolve, considering the weekly 8/7 262.50-strike put is pricing in roughly the same implied volatility (IV) as the call (106.8% vs. 106.9%).

Widening the sentiment scope reveals option traders have shown a preference for long calls in recent months. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the equity's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 1.29 ranks in the 84th annual percentile.

Echoing this call-skewed backdrop is the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.85, which sits lower than 96% of all similar readings taken in the past year. In other words, short-term traders have been more call-heavy toward TSLA just 4% of the time during the last 12 months. With 24% of the equity's float sold short, though, it's possible that some of this recent call buying is at the hands of short sellers initiating some pre-earnings "insurance."

Regardless, the beauty of buying options is that the most any trader has to lose is the initial premium paid. However, with uncertainty surrounding TSLA's earnings running high, premium on the stock's near-term options is pricing in elevated volatility expectations at the moment. Specifically, TSLA's 30-day ATM IV is docked at 47.3% -- in the 76th percentile of its annual range.

Technically speaking, it's been a strong run for the stock in recent months. Since hitting an annual low of $181.40 in late March, Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has tacked on 44.6%. More recently, the shares have been consolidating atop their rising 60-day moving average, and were last seen lingering near $262.30.

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