First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) and the Nearly $2 Million Gamble

One speculator bought to open 5,600 First Solar, Inc. (FSLR) calls yesterday


Published on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:56 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) -- along with a number of its sector peers -- gave up ground yesterday. Specifically, shares of the Tempe, Arizona-based company slid 3.1% to settle at $42.83 amid a sell-off in energy stocks. However, one major options trader wagered on a recovery over the next two months.

Diving right in, calls crossed at a 57% mark-up to the typical daily rate on Monday. FSLR's most active option by a wide margin was the March 45 call, where nearly 5,700 contracts were exchanged -- including a 5,600-contract sweep that was bought to open, according to Trade-Alert. Based on the option's $3.20 premium at the time, the speculator laid out a total of roughly $1.8 million (number of contracts * premium paid * 100 shares per contract) for his bullish bet. This is the most the trader can lose, should FSLR settle at or below $45 at March options expiration -- whereas gains are theoretically unlimited north of at-expiration breakeven at $48.20 (strike plus premium).

Yesterday's call buying represents a break from the prevailing trend. During the past 10 weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), FSLR has racked up a put/call volume ratio of 0.62 -- in the 82nd annual percentile. In other words, options traders have scooped up long puts over calls at a faster-than-usual clip of late.

This preference for bearish bets over bullish isn't entirely shocking. On a year-over-year basis, First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR) has dropped 14.3%, and now trades at $43.74. Today, however, the shares are up more than 2%.

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