Most Active Weekly Options: American Express Company and Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Options traders are switching sides on American Express Company (AXP) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD)

Mar 24, 2015 at 1:50 PM
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The 20 stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total weekly 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 credit card concern American Express Company (NYSE:AXP) and biopharmaceutical firm Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD).

Most Active Weekly Options Table

AXP has had a rough time on the charts in 2015, down 12.4%. Additionally, the shares hit an annual low of $77.12 in mid-February following a number of fundamental developments, but were last seen lingering near $81.50.

Options traders had been keeping the faith, as evidenced by the equity's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 3.34, which ranks in the 98th annual percentile. Simply stated, calls have been bought to open over puts with more rapidity just 2% of the time within the past year.

Today, though, options traders appear to be switching sides. Puts are trading at a slightly accelerated clip, and are outpacing calls by a modest margin. Receiving notable attention is AXP's weekly 3/27 79.50-strike put, which is apparently being bought to open. In other words, those purchasing new positions expect American Express Company to breach $79.50 by week's end, when the series expires.

GILD has been making some big moves over the past 52 weeks, boasting a gain of roughly 39%. Although the stock took a hit in yesterday's session due to a fatal reaction in one patient taking its hepatitis C treatment, GILD is on the mend today -- up 1.4% at $101.53.

Daily Chart of GILD Since March 2014

In the options pits, while put buying has been popular -- the security's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 0.62 rests higher than 92% of similar readings taken in the past year -- it's call traders who are driving today's action. Specifically, calls are changing hands at two times the average intraday pace.

Drilling down, Gilead Sciences, Inc.'s May 110 call has seen the most action. According to Trade-Alert, the majority of the activity here is due to a multi-exchange sweep of 8,145 contracts that was bought for $1.50 apiece, resulting in an initial net debit of $1.2 million (number of contracts * premium paid * 100 shares per contract).

 

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