Morgan Stanley, Options Traders See More Upside for Nike Stock

There's been heavy call buying on NKE in recent weeks

by Josh Selway

Published on Aug 2, 2018 at 10:05 AM

Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) has outperformed in 2018, up 24% year-to-date as of yesterday's close, and the stock reached a record high of $81 back on June 29. Since then, the shares have been consolidating just above the $75 mark, home to their pre-bull-gap highs from early June, as well as their 50-day moving average. Against this backdrop, Morgan Stanley became the latest to call for an extended breakout for NKE.

Specifically, the brokerage firm just initiated coverage on the blue chip with an "overweight" opinion and price target of $88, predicting the company will keep taking market share in the activewear market. Still, though, Nike bulls remain in the minority on Wall Street, with 13 of the 23 brokerage firms in coverage maintaining "hold" or "sell" recommendations. As such, the security could continue to attract more bullish attention going forward.

Sentiment has stacked up much differently in the options pits, however. For starters, NKE's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) comes in at 0.72 and ranks just 2 percentage points from a 12-month low, showing call open interest among contracts expiring within three months outweighs put open interest by an unusual margin at the moment.

And looking at more recent action, the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) comes in at 2.85, meaning call buying has almost tripled put buying in the last two weeks. Moreover, this reading ranks in the 96th annual percentile, revealing such a preference for long calls over puts is quite rare.

The most popular option during the past two weeks, based on open interest added, was the October 77.50 call, where more than 8,000 positions were added, compared to fewer than 3,000 contracts added at the next closest position. Data from the major exchanges show almost exclusive buy-to-open activity at the call, so many are speculating on more upside from NKE shares in the coming months. At last check, the stock was up 0.3% at $77.78.

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