Options Radar: Barrick Gold Corporation, Exxon Mobil, and Visa Inc

Reviewing notable options activity on Barrick Gold Corporation (USA), Exxon Mobil Corporation, and Visa Inc

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Published on Oct 31, 2014 at 2:17 PM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Three stocks seeing notable options activity today are precious metals producer Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX), energy giant Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), and credit card issue Visa Inc (NYSE:V). Here's a look at how today's options traders have been placing their bets on these three names.

  • Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX) has tumbled 2% to trade at $12.04 -- and earlier hit another 20-plus-year low of $11.33 -- as gold sinks to its lowest level in four years. Also pressuring the shares is a price-target cut to $17 from $20 at Barclays, which underscored its "equal weight" rating. Conversely, Mackie Research upped its opinion of ABX to "hold" from "sell." In the options pits, intraday volume is running at roughly double the typical rate, and short-term contracts are in demand, per the equity's 30-day at-the-money (ATM) implied volatility (IV) -- up 7.9% to 38.8%. Digging deeper, ABX's December 13 call is seeing the most attention, largely thanks to a 10,000-contract block that crossed between the bid and ask prices, making it unclear whether the lot was sold or bought, respectively. Nevertheless, with fewer than 900 contracts in open interest here, it's safe to say the positions are being newly initiated.

  • Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) is up 1.5% to hover near $95.83, on the heels of a third-quarter earnings beat, driven by improved performance in the company's refining and chemicals units. In options land, calls are crossing at faster than twice the expected intraday clip. Digging deeper, traders are eyeing the century mark, where opening activity is transpiring. Specifically, 13,062 contracts -- including a lot of 9,270 -- have changed hands at the December 100 call, dwarfing the 3,302 contracts in open interest. However, it's unclear whether these calls are being sold or bought, as the majority have been exchanged between the bid and ask prices.

  • Visa Inc (NYSE:V) has tacked on 1.3% to trade at $239.76, and earlier hit a record high of $242.50, as its post-earnings momentum continues. Meanwhile, options are trading at triple the expected intraday pace, and the stock's 30-day ATM IV has edged 0.6% higher to 17.2%, signaling elevated demand for short-term strikes. Speaking of which, the weekly 10/31 242.50-strike call is seeing buy-to-open activity, as eleventh-hour bulls bank on additional upside through today's close. Longer-term bears, by contrast, are buying to open V's ATM January 2015 240-strike put, which is the security's most active option.

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