Ford Motor Company (F) Squelches Fiat Merger Talk

Ford Motor Company (F) CEO Mark Fields said the automaker has "no interest" in merging with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Apr 25, 2016 at 12:06 PM

Less than two weeks ago, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE:FCAU) CEO Sergio Marchionne said Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) was one of a few potential merger partners. However, over the weekend, Ford CEO Mark Fields squelched any further speculation, saying the U.S. automaker has "no interest" in merging with Fiat. The stock is slightly lower on the news, and options traders have been betting on downside in recent weeks -- ahead of this Thursday morning's earnings report.

While Ford calls more than triple puts in midday trading, that hasn't been the case over the past two weeks. Specifically, F's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 0.75 ranks in the bearishly skewed 87th annual percentile. If that's not enough, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) is 1.45 -- just 9 percentage points from a 12-month peak, with short-term put open interest outstripping call open interest.

Short interest has been ramping up, too. During the last two reporting periods, short interest jumped 15.6% to nearly 168 million shares. At F's average trading rate, it would take more than one week to cover these bearish bets.

Such skepticism may be warranted by the automaker's recent performances in the earnings confessional. Specifically, the stock slipped an average of 3.1% in the session subsequent to the company's past two quarterly reports. This time around, the options market is pricing in a 4.6% single-day swing, in either direction.

As alluded to, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is down today, giving up 0.7% at $13.51. In fact, the stock's recent rally attempt was rejected last week by its descending 200-day moving average, while F's year-to-date breakeven mark of $14.09 looms just overhead as another potential layer of resistance.

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