Staples, Inc. (SPLS) Stock Stumbles Amid Potential U.K. Exit

Stock and options volume are running near 12-month lows on Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS)

Josh Selway
Jul 5, 2016 at 11:37 AM
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Office supply retailer Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS) is pouring salt in Britain's "Brexit" wounds, as the company is considering leaving the U.K. altogether as a result of its recent M&A flop. The news has SPLS stock down 3.1% at $8.56, though this isn't unfamiliar territory. In fact, the shares have been bouncing between $8 and $9 since their early May bear gap. Looking more closely, today's move has failed to inspire heavy volume in or out of the options pits. 

Taking a quick step back, data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows that more than 16 calls have been bought to open for every put during the past two weeks. The resulting 10-day call/put volume ratio of 16.30 ranks in the 74th percentile of its annual range, revealing an abnormal appetite for calls. 

As alluded to, though, there's been almost no interest in SPLS today. For starters, its stock volume right now is running near a 12-month low. The same is true for SPLS options volume, as just under 200 contracts have been traded. 

This may be somewhat surprising, given how historically cheap SPLS options are right now, from a volatility standpoint. This is evidenced by the stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 32%, which ranks in just the 6th annual percentile. In other words, the options market is pricing in surprisingly low volatility expectations at the moment. 

Outside of the options arena, SPLS stock has plenty of skeptics across Wall Street. For instance, 90% of covering analysts have issued a tepid "hold" rating. Plus, the stock's short-interest ratio sits at a healthy 3.60, despite a recent exodus of bears in the most recent reporting period -- when short interest dropped by almost 21%. 

There's reason to be skeptical of Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS), too. A year ago, the shares were trading north of $15, meaning they've lost 45% of their value since. More recently, SPLS stock has trailed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by roughly 22 percentage points during the past three months. 

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