Options Traders Think Shaq a Slam Dunk for Papa John's

The former NBA star is the new spokesperson for PZZA

by Patrick Martin

Published on Mar 22, 2019 at 2:56 PM

The Dow is getting crushed today due to the inverted yield curve and a rough outing from Nike (NKE). Of the stocks making particular noise today, mobile network firm Nokia Oyj (NYSE:NOK) is lower, while biotech Neurotrope Inc (NASDAQ:NTRP) and pizza maker Papa John's International, Inc. (NASDAQ:PZZA) are higher. Here's a quick look at what's got the shares of NOK, NTRP, and PZZA moving today.

NOK Options Pits Come Alive Amid Probe

Nokia Oyj stock is down 5.4% to trade at $5.92, after the company reported compliance issues concerning certain transactions at its Alcatel-Lucent business. NOK is on track for its worst single-session drop since July 26, but is still clinging to its year-to-dare breakeven point. However, the shares are about to breach their 100-day moving on a closing basis for the first time since Christmas Eve. 

Nokia's options pits have erupted today. At last check, over 20,000 puts have changed hands -- 16 times the average intraday amount and volume pacing for the 100th percentile of its annual range. Leading the charge is the April 5.50 put, where new positions are being opened. 

NTRP Eyes Best Week Since 2017

Neurotrope stock is up 9.6% to trade at $5.15, set for a year-to-date closing high. The stock surged yesterday after the company's CEO Charles Ryan issued upbeat comments on its Alzheimer's treatment, the same day rival Biogen (BIIB) discontinued trials of its own Alzheimer's drug. Brokerage firm Maxim Group today called Neurotrope's valuation "attractive" for its "novel" treatment of the disease. NTRP is heading toward a 26.6% weekly win, its best since November 2017.  

Only one analyst is currently covering NTRP, but if others follow the leader, the attention could boost the shares. The lone brokerage rates the security a "buy" with a $15.50 price target, territory not seen in two years. 

Call Traders Circle Papa John's After Shaq News

Papa John's badly needed an image overhaul after its founder's racist comments last summer. Earlier today, the company hired former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal as its new spokesperson for $8.25 million. Shaq will also join the pizza chain's board, while investing in nine franchises in Atlanta. In response, PZZA is up 6.2% to trade at $49.79, extending its year-to-date lead to 25%. The shares are on track to topple their 200-day moving average, a ceiling in place since a late-November slide. 

Options traders must be big Shaq fans. Kidding aside, over 8,000 calls have changed hands today -- six times the average intraday volume and more than double the number of puts traded. Much of the attention is centered on the April 50 call, with buyers banking on a continued climb from PZZA in the coming weeks. 

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