How Options Traders Are Playing JNJ's Big Vaccine News

Weekly 3/5 calls are all the rage this morning

Assistant Editor
Mar 1, 2021 at 10:08 AM
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Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) made headlines over the weekend, after its vaccine candidate received emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA confirmed the safety and efficacy of the company's one-shot Covid-19 vaccine, which was subsequently signed off by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- receiving a unanimous recommendation from a CDC panel. An executive for Johnson & Johnson said the company is prepared to ship nearly 4 million doses, and deliveries should begin on Tuesday. In response, JNJ is up 1.1% this morning, last seen trading at $160.25. 

JNJ has cooled off from its Jan. 26 all-time high of $173.65. The equity still has support from its 50-day moving average despite a Friday close below this level, as this trendline has been reclaimed today. Year-over-year, Johnson & Johnson stock is up 20%.

In the wake of today's news, the options pits are exploding with bullish activity. In the first hour of trading, over 17,000 calls have crossed the tape, four times what's typically seen at this point and nearly seven times the amount puts traded. The most popular is the weekly 3/5 165-strike call, followed 162.50-strike call from the same series.

At the moment, Johnson & Johnson's options are reasonably priced. JNJ's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 23% is in the 13th percentile of its annual range, implying that options players are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations -- a boon for premium buyers.

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