Options Pop on Activision Blizzard, General Motors

Aphria stock is higher despite a C-suite shakeup

by Patrick Martin

Published on Jan 11, 2019 at 2:49 PM

Stocks are pulling back today as the government shutdown drags on. Video game maker Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) is lower, while auto stock General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), and cannabis name Aphria Inc (NYSE:APHA) are higher. Below, we'll take a look at the news moving the shares of ATVI, GM, and APHA.

ATVI on Verge of Snapping Five-Day Winning Streak

Earlier today, Activision Blizzard transferred the publishing rights for its "Destiny" video game to Bungie. The move prompted price-target cuts to $87 from $93 at Benchmark, and to $48 from $68 at MKM Partners, with the latter now expecting "less pronounced product catalysts." ATVI at last check was down 10.3% to trade at $46.22 and about to snap a five-day winning streak. Despite the drop today though, the stock appears to have found support at the $43 level, which cushioned its Dec. 26 low of $43.71.

The ATVI options pits have exploded today. So far, about 115,000 options have changed hands, 12 times the average intraday pace and volume pacing for the 100th percentile. Most of the action is transpiring at the weekly 1/11 46- and 46.50-strike calls, where it appears new positions are being opened.

General Motors Stock Heading Toward Huge Week

General Motors stock is up 9% to trade at $37.85, one of the best stocks on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) today, after the automaker issued upbeat profit guidance for its fiscal 2019. GM is on track for its best day since Oct. 31 and its best weekly win since June. Longer term, though, the auto name has shed 15% year-over-year, and last week sank on subpar vehicle sales data.

In the options pits, calls have become quite popular today. At last check, about 150,000 calls have changed hands, 11 times the average intraday pace and volume pacing for the 100th percentile.

APHA Pivots Higher, Eyes Key Trendline

At last check, Aphria stock was up 4.4% to trade at $6.87. Earlier today, the stock traded as low as $6.39 after the company's second-quarter earnings report. In addition, Aphria's CEO announced he would be stepping down at the end of the current quarter. APHA has since pared those losses and is heading toward a weekly win of $13.6%. The shares are on track to close above their 40-day moving average for the first time since mid October.

APHA shorts have been piling on, with short interest up 32% in the two most recent reporting periods to 21.88 million shares. This represents a healthy 9.5% of the stock's total available float, making the stock ripe for a short squeeze.

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