J C Penney Options Bears Win Big After Earnings

The retail stock is near levels not seen since November

May 17, 2018 at 10:10 AM
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Amid a week full of retail earnings reports, department store J C Penney Company Inc (NYSE:JCP) said its first-quarter adjusted loss of 22 cents per share was slightly narrower than analysts were expected. However, the retailer's $2.58 billion in revenue missed the mark, and same-store sales grew at a slower-than-anticipated pace in the extended cold-weather season. A downwardly revised full-year adjusted profit forecast is only adding to the bearish buzz, with JCP stock down 10% to trade at $2.76 -- on track for its worst day since December.

This negative price action is nothing new for JCP stock. The shares have shed nearly half their value over the past 12 months -- most recently pressured by its 40-day moving average. Plus, today's bear gap puts the security near levels not seen since November, when J C Penney shares tagged a record low.

This marks the stock's fifth earnings-related plunge over the past six quarters, and options traders appeared to be bracing for a repeat of history. The May 3.50 put is home to peak open interest on JCP, with 64,437 contracts outstanding, and data from Trade-Alert points to possible buy-to-open activity here back on April 30.

Today, with J C Penney stock on the short-sale restricted list, options volume is running at a quick clip in early trading -- and more puts than calls have been traded. Speculators may be liquidating positions at the in-the-money May 3 put, JCP's most active option so far.


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