Big Lots Put Volume Spikes During Post-Earnings Bear Gap

BIG is short-sale restricted today

Karee Venema
Mar 9, 2018 at 10:23 AM
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Shares of Big Lots, Inc. (NYSE:BIG) have plunged 11.8% to trade at $47.51, after the Columbus, Ohio-based discount retailer said same-store sales unexpectedly declined in the fourth quarter. And while the company reported better-than-expected adjusted profit of $2.57 per share for the three-month period, its quarterly revenue of $1.64 billion and full-year per-share profit forecast of $4.75 to $4.95 fell short of estimates.

Today's downside just echoes the retail stock's recent technical troubles, with BIG shares off 16.3% from their Jan. 29 record high of $64.42 heading into today's trading. However, the shares had repeatedly found a foothold in the $53.50 region since mid-December, a level that coincides with a 50% Fibonacci retracement of the stock's late-2017 surge. Big Lots is now trading well below here, and is pacing toward its biggest weekly loss since December 2014.

The options market it seems was pricing in a post-earnings move to the upside, as evidenced by the stock's 30-day implied volatility (IV) skew, which closed last night at 0.8% -- in the 1st annual percentile. However, near-term volatility expectations were high, based on BIG's 30-day at-the-money IV, which settled Thursday at a 52-week high of 56.2%. And while the latter metric has come down slightly post-earnings -- last seen at 34.6%, in the 75th annual percentile, the former is still pointing to inflated put premiums, docked at 0.6%, and in the 1st percentile of its 52-week range.

Nevertheless, put volume is running at 20 times the expected intraday rate this morning, with nearly 6,000 contracts exchanged. Those buying to open new positions may be looking for an alternate way to bet bearishly on BIG stock, considering it is short-sale restricted after earnings. Specifically, it looks like some traders may be purchasing new positions at the out-of-the-money July 45 put.


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