Signs Point to Short Squeeze for Solar Stock

X put buyers are targeting the December 22 strike today

by Karee Venema

Published on Nov 27, 2018 at 3:15 PM
Updated on Nov 27, 2018 at 3:43 PM

The U.S. stock market has made a move higher in the last hour of trading. A number of individual stocks are making notable moves, too, including cardiovascular disease specialist Amarin Corporation (NASDAQ:AMRN), steelmaker United States Steel Corporation (NYSE:X), and alternative energy stock Vivint Solar Inc (NYSE:VSLR). Here's a quick look at what's moving the shares of AMRN, X, and VSLR.

Protective Puts Popular Amid Amarin Stock Struggles

Amarin stock is down 12.3% at $17.01, after the company announced the pricing of $200 million American depositary share (ADS) to fund the commercialization of its heart drug Vascepa. AMRN shares are now down 27% from their Nov. 6 high of $23.34, though their 50-day moving average has swooped in as potential support.

Plus, the shares remain up 324.8% year-to-date -- which may have shareholders rushing to buy married puts to protect paper profits. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), AMRN stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.51 ranks in the 94th annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open relative to calls at a quicker-than-usual clip.

Options Bears Blast U.S. Steel Ahead of Trump-Xi Meeting

Steel stocks fell yesterday on details of General Motors' (GM) restructuring plans, and today, the sector is getting hit on President's Donald Trump's harsh tone on trade with China. U.S. Steel stock, specifically, tagged a 15-month low of $22.71 earlier, last seen trading down 8.7% at $22.71 -- bringing its week-to-date deficit to 11.3%.

More broadly, X stock is down 35% year-to-date, and options traders are betting on even bigger losses. Amid accelerated trading -- 114,000 options are on the tape so far, four times the average intraday pace -- Trade-Alert suggests December 22 puts are being bought to open for a volume-weighted average price of $0.69. If this is the case, breakeven for the put buyers at the close on Friday, Dec. 21, is $21.31 (strike less premium paid) -- a time frame that includes this week's meeting between President Trump and China President Xi Jinping.

Vivint Solar Nears Top of the New York Stock Exchange

Vivint Solar is near the top of the Big Board today, with some attributing the upside to short-covering tailwinds. Short interest on VSLR stock edged down 0.8% in the two most recent reporting periods to 6.56 million shares -- representing 5.6% of the equity's available float, or 15.8 times the average daily pace of trading.

Whatever the reason, VSLR shares are up 10.2% to trade at $7.14, earlier topping out at a two-year high of $7.20. Week-to-date, the solar stock is now up 25%, and is 76.5% higher in 2018. Analysts are overwhelmingly optimistic toward Vivint Solar, with all four in coverage maintaining a "strong buy" recommendation.


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