How ESPN Layoffs May Be Burning Walt Disney Co (DIS) Bears

Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) is moving higher on news of layoffs at ESPN

by Josh Selway

Published on Oct 21, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) has picked up 0.8% today to trade at $110.75, on news that subsidiary ESPN will lay off roughly 300 employees -- the second notable name to announce job cuts today. In response, traders have bolted to the options pits, where calls are crossing at three times the average afternoon pace. 

Taking a step back, speculators have been bearish on the media conglomerate of late. According to data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), DIS sports a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.99, which ranks higher than four-fifths of all readings from the past 12 months. This tells us that puts have been bought to open over calls at a faster-than-usual pace. 

Echoing this put bias is DIS' Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR). At 1.08, this reading reveals that put open interest outweighs call open interest among options expiring within three months. It also ranks higher than 78% of readings taken in the last year, indicating short-term speculators are more put-skewed than what's typically seen. 

There's also pessimism outside options land. More than 62 million DIS shares are controlled by short sellers, representing more than seven days' worth of buying power, at typical volumes. 

Looking at this sentiment backdrop, you wouldn't guess that Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) has been an outperformer on the charts. Specifically, the shares have added 17.6% in 2015, recently taking back their 100-day moving average

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