Option Bears Cash In on Sunedison Inc (SUNE) Crash

Yesterday's Sunedison Inc (NYSE:SUNE) put buyers are in good shape, with the stock crashing on an SEC probe

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Mar 29, 2016 at 10:56 AM

Sunedison Inc (NYSE:SUNE) is making headlines this morning -- and for all the wrong reasons. For one, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is probing the solar firm for potential fraud. For another, SUNE is allegedly at "substantial risk" of bankruptcy, per one of its subsidiaries. As a result, the stock is down 42.5% at $0.72, short-sale restricted, and fresh off a record low of $0.69 -- which should be a boon to recent buyers of SUNE put options.

Specifically, traders yesterday bought to open SUNE's weekly 4/1 0.50-strike puts, at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.04. Today, the option's VWAP has jumped to $0.08, and based on several mid-sized blocks that have already changed hands, it appears some of yesterday's buyers are already selling to close their positions to lock in paper profits ahead of Friday night's expiration. At the same time, data at the International Securities Exchange (ISE) indicates additional buy-to-open activity at the out-of-the-money strike, suggesting some speculators are counting on even more downside through week's end.

SUNE is no stranger to bearish bets. During the past 10 days at the ISE, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open 1.30 puts for every call -- a ratio that sits just 3 percentage points from an annual high.

Underscoring this bias toward skepticism, SUNE's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) stands at a 12-month peak of 1.21. In other words, looking back one year, puts have never outstripped calls by a greater margin among options with a shelf-life of three months or less.

It's more of the same outside of Sunedison Inc's (NYSE:SUNE) options pits. Short interest on the stock jumped 21.2% during the last two reporting periods, and two-thirds of covering analysts consider the shares a "hold" or "strong sell."

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