Southern Copper Corporation (SCCO) Put Players Got It Right

Southern Copper Corp (SCCO) is down sharply today as copper stumbles

by Karee Venema

Published on Jan 14, 2015 at 1:57 PM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Similar to sector peer Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX), Southern Copper Corp (NYSE:SCCO) is taking it on the chin today amid a sharp drop in copper prices and a dreary global growth forecast from the World Bank. At last check, the stock was off 5.3% at $25.14 -- after earlier wallowing to a new three-year low of $23.60, and landing on the short-sale restricted list -- most likely music to the ears of traders both in and out of the options pits.

Specifically, speculators at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open 70.71 puts for every call over the past 10 sessions. What's more, this ratio ranks higher than all other readings taken in the past year, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at an annual-high clip in recent months.

Echoing this put-skewed bias is SCCO's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.90, which ranks in the 93rd percentile of its annual range. In other words, short-term speculators have been more put-heavy just 7% of the time within the past year. In today's session, puts are trading at 37 times the average intraday rate, with buy-to-open activity detected at the March 19 and 21 strikes.

Outside of the options arena, short interest rose 2.4% over the past two reporting periods, and now accounts for a healthy 8.2% of the stock's available float. It would take more than six sessions to cover these shorted shares, at the security's average daily pace of trading.

However, not everyone has climbed on board the bearish bandwagon. Of the eight analysts covering the shares, four maintain a "strong buy" recommendation, versus four "holds" and not a single "sell." Plus, the average 12-month price target of $34.81 rests in territory not seen since April 2013. This set-up leaves the door wide open for a round of downgrades and/or price-target cuts -- which could translate into a fresh wave of selling pressure -- should Southern Copper Corp (NYSE:SCCO) extend its 11% year-to-date slide.


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