Earnings Wallop Whiting Petroleum Corp (WLL), Option Bulls

Whiting Petroleum Corp (WLL) is sinking on earnings, to the chagrin of bullish options traders

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jul 28, 2016 at 3:32 PM

Whiting Petroleum Corp (NYSE:WLL) is reeling after the oil producer reported a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss. Specifically, the energy stock has dropped 7.3% to trade at $6.81 -- which should come as good news to short sellers, but could have bullish options traders kicking rocks.

Diving into the data, WLL shorts have definitely been on the prowl lately, with short interest jumping roughly 30% in the last two reporting periods. In fact, over one-fifth of the stock's total float is dedicated to short interest.

Options players have blazed a different trail, though. During the last 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open three times as many calls as puts. WLL's resultant call/put volume ratio of 2.90 ranks above 87% of all other readings from the past year.

That's not to say all these call buyers are bulls. In fact, some of the call buying may have been at the hands of short sellers hedging their bearish positions in the event of a post-earnings WLL rally -- one that obviously didn't materialize.

No matter the motive, now is a good time to buy premium on short-term options. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 99% ranks lower than 96% of all readings from the last year. In other words, volatility expectations are relatively muted right now. Plus, WLL's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) of 94 suggests the stock has tended to make bigger moves than the options market has priced in over the prior year.

Speaking of the prior year, it's been a lousy one for Whiting Petroleum Corp (NYSE:WLL). Over the last 52 weeks, the oil stock has shed over 70% of its value, and in late February, it bottomed at an all-time low of $3.35.

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