FTC Allegations Have Lifelock Inc (LOCK) Bears Piling On

Lifelock Inc (NYSE:LOCK) has taken a turn for the worse on Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allegations

by Karee Venema

Published on Jul 21, 2015 at 3:38 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

Lifelock Inc (NYSE:LOCK) was enjoying a modest lead for most of the day, until reports surfaced the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plans to take action against the identity protection firm for allegedly violating the terms of a 2010 deceptive advertising settlement. After being halted several times since the news broke, LOCK was last seen down 49.4% at $8.13 -- after earlier hitting a two-year low of $7.70 -- while trading volume has soared to 14 times what's typically seen in a normal session.

The company has since issued a response, saying it disagrees "with the substance of the FTC's contentions and [is] prepared to take [the] case to court." Additionally, Lifelock asserted, "the claims raised by the FTC are all related to the past, not to current business practices."

While recent online assaults have been a boon for some cybersecurity firms, the same can't be said for LOCK. In fact, heading into today's session, the stock was sitting on a 13.2% year-to-date deficit, and had spent the majority of 2015 churning between $13 and $17.50.

In spite of this lackluster technical showing, call buyers have been active in LOCK's options pits of late. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 43.08 ranks in the 97th annual percentile. In other words, calls have been bought to open calls over puts at a faster clip just 3% of the time within the past year.

Outside of the options pits, though, short interest jumped 14.2% in the last two reporting periods, and now accounts for 16.9% of the stock's available float. In light of this, some of the recent call buying -- particularly at out-of-the-money strikes -- may be a result of shorts hedging against any unexpected upside.

Today, with the security on the short-sale restricted list, put volume has taken flight -- trading at 97 times the average intraday pace. In fact, the majority of LOCK's 10 most active options are puts, with speculators apparently purchasing new positions at the equity's August 7 and 8 strikes. If traders are indeed initiating fresh long positions, the goal is for Lifelock Inc (NYSE:LOCK) to move south of the strikes by expiration at the close on Friday, Aug. 21.

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