F5 Networks Stock Sinks on Nginx Buyout Buzz

FFIV puts have been on fire of late

Managing Editor
Mar 12, 2019 at 9:55 AM
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Shares of F5 Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:FFIV) are down 7% at $150.83 in early trading, after the tech name announced plans to purchase privately-held open source web server Nginx for an estimated $670 million. F5 Networks said the deal will increase software revenue growth and revenue mix in fiscal 2019 and 2020, though FFIV said it will also suspend its common stock share offering.

The news sparked a bearish reaction from J.P. Morgan Securities, which downgraded FFIV to "neutral" from "overweight," and cut its price target to $183 from $210, calling the acquisition "expensive." Overall, the majority of the 14 covering firms sport tepid "hold" or worse ratings, while the average 12-month price target of $169.79 is a slim 4.8% premium to current levels.

Put options traders have been running toward the tech name of late, with data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) showing the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio at 1.15, ranking in the 87th annual percentile. In other words, puts have been purchased over calls at a faster-than-usual clip.

Now is an attractive time for premium buyers to target the security, considering F5 stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 25% stands in the 23rd annual percentile. In other words, near-term options are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment.

On the charts, FFIV has struggled in 2019, with a February rally attempt quickly contained by the stock's 120-day moving average. The equity is now down 6.9% year-to-date, but finding a familiar foothold in the $150-$152 region, home to its mid-April pre-bear gap highs.


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