Pharmaceutical Stock Flies on Eye-Care Spin-Off

Calls are popping in the options pits

Assistant Editor
Aug 6, 2020 at 11:00 AM
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The shares of Bausch Health Companies Inc (NYSE:BHC) are soaring after the company confirmed it is planning to spin off its eye care business, Bausch + Lomb, into a separate publicly traded company. However, potentially paring further gains is BHC's second-quarter report, out this morning, which shows revenue and losses per share missing analysts' estimates. Nevertheless, BHC was last seen up 7.7% at $20.96. 

Today's rally has Bausch Health stock trading at levels not seen since early March, before the broader market's selloff. Furthermore, the equity just broke above its 160-day moving average for the first time since late February. Year-to-date, BHC is still down 23.5%. 

On the analyst front, 10 out of 14 in coverage sport a "strong buy," with the remaining four at a "hold" or worse rating. Meanwhile, the consensus 12-month price target of $26.50 is a 17.7% premium to current levels.

In the options pits, calls have outnumbered puts at a 10-to-1 ratio over the past 10 weeks at the Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio also stands higher than 86% of readings from the past year, meaning long calls are more popular than usual. 

After today's news, call volume is seeing an exceptional surge. So far, 15,000 calls have crossed the tape -- 14 times what's typically seen. Most popular is the January 2021 15-strike call, followed by the weekly 8/7 23-strike call, with positions being opened at both. 

That said, now may be a good time to weigh in on BHC's next move with options. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 66% stands higher than just 19% of all other readings in its annual range, implying that options players are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment. 


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