2 Cruise Stocks Sitting Out the Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, Inc (CUBA) Castro Pop

In the wake of Fidel Castro's death, Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, Inc (NASDAQ:CUBA) is flying high

by Karee Venema

Published on Nov 28, 2016 at 1:10 PM

Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund, Inc (NASDAQ:CUBA) is popping today, following the death of Cuba's former president, Fidel Castro, over the weekend. And, despite a cautious tweet from President-elect Donald Trump over U.S.-Cuba trade relations, shares of CUBA -- which were up by roughly 18% in electronic trading -- are 13.6% higher at $7.25. Nevertheless, not all of the fund's holdings are participating in the rally, with cruise stocks Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE:RCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NASDAQ:NCLH) trading lower, and widening their respective year-to-date deficits.

RCL, for instance, was last seen down 1% at $82.20. Longer term, the travel stock has shed nearly 20% year-to-date. The stock could continue to stall out near this round-number percentage level in the near term -- and continue its trend as a fourth-quarter underperformer -- while another area of potential resistance is just overhead at $84. The level coincides with a 50% Fibonacci retracement of its late-December highs and early February lows, and contained RCL stock's mid-April and mid-November rally attempts.

Options traders, meanwhile, have been betting on a breakout at an annual-high clip. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), RCL's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 9.29 ranks above all other comparable readings taken in the past year.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd's December 85 call has seen the biggest rise in open interest over this time frame, with 1,382 contracts added. According to Trade-Alert, a healthy portion of this activity appears to be of the buy-to-open kind, meaning traders are betting on RCL to settle north of $85 at front-month options expiration at the close on Friday, Dec. 16. With nearly 9% of the stock's float sold short, though, it's possible some of this activity is due to short sellers hedging their bearish bets.

NCLH, meanwhile, is trading down 0.8% at $40.26, after earlier being off as much as 2%. Today's technical troubles just highlight a withstanding trend, with the shares down 30% year-over-year under intense pressure from their 32-week moving average. In fact, this trendline quickly halted NCLH's recent rally off its early September two-year lows near $34.

Speculative players have shown a preference for calls over puts. Amid relatively low absolute volume, traders at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX have bought to open 3.19 calls for each put over the past 20 sessions. Plus, NCLH sports a front-month gamma-weighted Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.71, which indicates near-the-money calls outweigh puts among standard December options.

Drilling down, notable levels of front-month call open interest on Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd are currently found at the December 40 and 42.50 strikes. In the near term, this could create options-related resistance for the stock, as the hedges related to these bets unwind over the next three weeks.

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