Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) Can't Escape Broad-Market Bloodshed

Despite its recent sell-off, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) remains the best S&P 500 Index (SPX) performer so far this year

by Karee Venema

    Published on Aug 21, 2015 at 2:24 PM

    It's been a rough week for momentum -- and media -- stocks, and Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) is just one name that's had a pretty spectacular -- and well-documented -- fall from grace. Today, the shares are off 5.3% at $106.44 -- amid a broad-market sell-off and speculation that states could soon start taxing streaming services.

    This recent slide is likely music to the ears of option traders, who have been initiating long puts over calls at a faster-than-usual clip. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), for instance, the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.01 sits in the 82nd percentile of its annual range.

    Echoing this is the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.40, which ranks higher than 80% of all similar readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, speculative traders are more put-skewed than usual toward options expiring in three months or less.

    Today, puts are crossing at two times the average intraday pace, and, with uncertainty swirling over the stock's future price action, its 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has jumped to an annual high of 60.3%. Eleventh-hour speculators are circling, too, with new positions being initiated at NFLX's August 105, 106, and 107 puts, as well as its August 106, 108, and 110 calls.

    Although NFLX has surrendered more than 14% in the past three sessions, the stock remains the top S&P 500 Index (SPX) performer in 2015 -- up 117%. What's more, this decline has seemingly found a foothold atop Netflix, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:NFLX) 60-day moving average. As such, it's possible that some of the recent put buying, particularly at out-of-the-money strikes, is a result of shareholders protecting paper profits.

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