Optimism Runs High as Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) Finalizes AOL Deal

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) now owns AOL, Inc.

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jun 23, 2015 at 10:44 AM

It's official: Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) has finalized its acquisition of AOL, Inc., after the two firms agreed to terms early last month. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will continue to lead the unit, reporting to VZ Executive Vice President Marni Walden. In light of the news, shares of VZ are 0.4% higher at $47.74 -- good news for recent call buyers.

In fact, long calls have been popular in recent weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Traders have bought to open 2.63 calls for every put during the last 10 days, and the resultant call/put volume ratio is higher than 70% of comparable readings from the last year.

Looking elsewhere, the brokerage crowd is bullishly skewed toward VZ. Fifteen analysts currently rate the stock a "buy" or better, compared to seven "holds" and just one "strong sell." Even short sellers have been hitting the exits, with short interest falling 19.1% during the two most recent reporting periods. Now, just 1.5% of VZ's float is sold short.

This optimism is perturbing, considering Verizon Communications Inc.'s (NYSE:VZ) technical track record. The stock is down more than 6% since its early May high of $50.86 -- despite the aforementioned short covering -- and today's gains are being contained by its descending 20-day moving average. Should the shares' struggles resume, a capitulation among bulls and/or an uptick in short selling could pressure VZ.

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