Earnings Preview: Nike Inc (NKE)

Nike Inc (NKE) option players are eyeing the $50 level ahead of earnings

Dec 19, 2016 at 11:53 AM
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Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) is having a rough year on the charts, and the athletic apparel retailer is due to report earnings tomorrow. Ahead of the event, option traders are eyeing the round $50 level for the shares of the worst-performing Dow component of 2016.

NKE is down 0.4% at $50.71 today, bringing its year-to-date loss to 18.9% -- the worst among all blue chips by a landslide. Currently, The Coca-Cola Co (NYSE:KO) is the only other Dow stock on pace for a year-to-date loss. However, NKE may have found a foothold at the round $50 region -- representing a 20% year-to-date decline for NKE shares -- which has acted as support over the last two months. 

Today in NKE's option pits, puts are trading at at twice their average intraday rate, with about 12,400 contracts exchanged -- on pace for the 91st percentile of its annual range. Drilling down, the January 2017 50-strike put is among the most active, and is already NKE's top open interest position, with more than 32,000 contracts outstanding. What's more, the January 2017 and weekly 12/23 50-strike put options have seen the most open interest added over the past two weeks. This heavy put activity and open interest located at the $50 level could act as an added layer of options-related support in the short term.

Against this backdrop, NKE's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.21 sits in the elevated 92nd percentile of its annual range, indicating near-term NKE option players have been especially put-skewed as of late. In addition, five of NKE's top 10 open interest positions are front-month puts.

Looking ahead at tomorrow's earnings report, NKE option players are pricing in a single-session swing of 7% in either direction. Over the past eight quarters, NKE shares have averaged a one-day post-earnings move of 4.1%, finishing in the red about half the time, so it looks like recent option players are betting on a bigger-than-usual earnings reaction out of the shares. If option traders' predictions pan out, a 7% fall could put Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) well below the layers of support at the $50 mark, and in territory not charted since early 2015.

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