Bulls Rejoice as Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Shrugs Off Ackman Attack

Bill Ackman's new video against Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) is falling on deaf ears

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Feb 9, 2016 at 2:28 PM

Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is once again coming under the scrutiny of short seller Bill Ackman. This time, the head of Pershing Square Capital Management posted a video to YouTube called "The American Dream Denied," in which former HLF reps discuss how they lost money selling the company's nutritional shakes.

As usual, the stock is shrugging off Ackman's latest salvo, last seen 2.3% higher at $44.40. On a longer-term basis, the shares have advanced 30% year-over-year, though they've underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by over 11 percentage points during the past three months.

This hasn't stopped option traders from placing bullish bets on HLF. For example, speculators have bought to open 2.32 calls for every put during the last 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). What's more, this ratio ranks just 4 percentage points from an annual high.

Further underscoring this bullish bias is HLF's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.58. This means calls nearly double puts among options in the front three-months' series of options, and also sits below all but 3% of comparable readings taken in the prior 12 months.

Of course, with Herbalife Ltd.'s (NYSE:HLF) short-interest ratio checking in at 9.30, it's possible some of these call buyers are short sellers purchasing protection. However, if unhedged bears begin to hit the exits amid a renewed show of technical strength, it could result in tailwinds for the stock.

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