ServiceMax Stake Sale Lifts Upgraded GE Stock

GE options volume is running hot in early trading

Dec 13, 2018 at 10:22 AM
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J.P. Morgan Securities analyst Stephen Tusa upgraded General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) to "neutral" from "underweight," marking the first time since May 2016 he's adjusted his rating on the former Dow stock. Tusa also removed GE from his Analyst Focus List as a short idea, even though he maintained his Street-low $6 price target, but noted the brokerage firm is "increasingly assuming a material equity raise could be necessary."

Additionally, General Electric said it's digital unit will sell its majority stake of cloud-based software name ServiceMax. Against this backdrop -- and despite a price-target cut to $12 from $11 at UBS -- GE stock is up 10.1% to trade at $7.39. More broadly, the former Dow stock has made a well-documented path lower, down nearly 80% from its July 2016 post-recession peak at $33, and hit its March 5, 2009, closing bottom of $6.66 in intraday trading on Monday.

Options traders have been growing increasingly bearish toward GE in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.64 ranks in the 81st annual percentile. While this shows calls have outpaced puts on an absolute basis, the rate of put buying has been quicker than usual.

Today, GE options volume is hot out of the gate, with roughly 99,000 puts and 63,000 calls on the tape in the first 20 minutes of trading -- about five times what's typically seen at this point. The January 2019 5-strike put is most active, where it looks like speculators may be buying to open new positions for a volume-weighted average price of $0.06. If this is the case, breakeven for the put buyers at January options expiration is $4.93 (strike less premium paid), territory not seen since late 1990.


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