Most Active Options Update: Alibaba Group Holding Limited (BABA) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM)

Options traders are targeting Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Feb 13, 2015 at 10:45 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

The 20 stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total options volume during the past 10 trading days. Names highlighted are new to the list since the last time the study was run, and data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Two names of notable interest are e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)) and blue chip Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM).

Most Active Options Table

BABA has been in the headlines recently, on speculation it will acquire sector peer eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY). Moreover, company founder Jack Ma made headlines today with his annual letter to employees, urging them to relax about U.S. lawsuits, and telling them not to expect cash-filled red envelopes this Lunar New Year.

The latter decision is partially informed by BABA's on-chart performance. Despite being up nearly 2% today, the stock is sitting on a 14.6% year-to-date deficit at $88.81, after recently being drilled by a lackluster earnings report. Nevertheless, traders have bought to open nearly two calls for every put over the past 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), per Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's call/put volume ratio of 1.95. Yesterday, however, call writing was in vogue, as skeptics set a short-term ceiling by selling to open the March 97.50 strike.

Elsewhere, XOM is also in the news, as the company tries to prevent a work stoppage at a Beaumont, Texas, refinery. Meanwhile, the shares have rallied more than 6% month-to-date to trade at $93, boosted by an earnings beat and an ongoing recovery in the energy sector.

During the last two weeks, traders have bought to open XOM puts at more than double the rate of calls, per the equity's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 2.14 -- which outranks 86% of other readings from the past year. Given the stock's recent technical strength, though, a portion of these long puts may have been initiated by shareholders seeking a downside hedge. Optimism was palpable in Exxon Mobil Corporation's options pits yesterday, as speculators bought to open February 93.50 and March 92.50 calls.


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