Rite Aid Stock Soars to Annual High on Surprise Top-Line beat

RAD options are attractively priced at the moment, too

Assistant Editor
Dec 17, 2020 at 10:09 AM
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The shares of Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE:RAD) are surging, last seen up 25% to a new annual high of $21.39, after the pharmacy giant scored an unexpected quarterly profit. Specifically, Rite Aid reported third-quarter earnings of 40 cents, well above the 5 cent loss that analysts predicted, while revenue also came in higher than forecasts. The drugstore operated chalked the win up to growth in both the retail pharmacy and pharmacy services segments.

On the charts, RAD has more than doubled in value in just the last month, with its ascending 10-day moving average catching pullbacks along the way. Longer term, Rite Aid stock is up 168% year-over-year. 

Though short interest has begun to unwind, there's still a healthy amount of pent-up pessimism, which could act as a tailwind in the even of a short squeeze. In the last two reporting periods, short interest has shed 12.7%, yet a whopping 13.17 million shares is still sold short. At the security's average pace of trading, it would take just over three days to cover these bearish bets.

In the options pits, calls rule the roost. This is per RAD's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 4.79 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio stands higher than 78% of readings from the past year, meaning long calls are being picked up at a faster-than-usual rate.  

Today, call volume is surging, with 19,000 calls and 5,205 puts having exchanged hands already -- 13 times what's typically seen at this point. Most popular is the January 2021 23-strike call, followed by the December 22 call, with new positions being opened at the latter.

The good news for options traders is that with earnings come and gone, a volatility crush has made premium more affordable. Rite Aid stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 97% sits in the 18th percentile of its annual range. This means option traders are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment.

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