Skeptic Places Big Bet as Macy's, Inc. (M) Sinks

One trader sold to open Macy's, Inc. (M) calls, anticipating short-term headwinds

Nov 11, 2015 at 11:27 AM
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A downwardly revised full-year forecast and a third-quarter sales miss have dropped Macy's, Inc. (NYSE:M) nearly 14% this morning to trade at $40.55. Adding to the bearish bias, the retailer said it will not immediately pursue a real estate investment trust (REIT), though it is considering redevelopment of certain flagship properties. Amid these fundamental follies, M option traders are extremely active.

Diving right in, intraday option volume is at eight times the typical level. In the lead is M's December 42.50 call, where it looks like one trader sold to open several sizable blocks, according to data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE). By selling these positions, the speculator anticipates $42.50 will act as a technical ceiling through back-month options expiration, at the close on Friday, Dec. 18.

Longer term, call buying has been the strategy of choice among speculators. At the ISE, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), M has amassed a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 1.71 -- in the 81st percentile of its annual range. Echoing this, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.57 sits in the low 8th percentile of all readings taken over the past 12 months. Should this optimism unwind amid M's technical tumult, further downside could result. In other words, the shares -- which are fresh off a new two-year bottom of $40.10, and short-sale restricted -- could pan even lower lows, especially if the company's holiday sales come in even worse than expected.

Turning back to today's price action, Macy's, Inc.'s (NYSE:M) sell-off is carrying wider implications, as retail stocks are cratering. Even this department store rival has succumbed to the sector headwinds, after initially jumping out of the gate.

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