Pre-Earnings Bulls Target Citigroup Inc. (C)

Citigroup Inc (C) will report earnings Thursday morning

Digital Content Group
Jan 14, 2015 at 1:43 PM
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Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) is following in the bearish footsteps of sector peer JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), down 4.1% today at $47.98. Meanwhile, with earnings on tap for tomorrow morning, calls are trading at double the expected intraday clip, and the stock's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has popped 12% to 29.1%, as expectations ramp up for a post-event move.

Diving right in, the January 2015 50.50-strike call is among C's most active options. From the looks of it, most of the roughly 7,200 contracts on the tape have been bought to open. In other words, these speculators anticipate the stock will topple $50.50 by Friday's close, when the front-month options expire. This would require a move of roughly 5.3% from C's current perch.

Today's preference for call buying has been exhibited in recent months. During the last 10 weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), C has accumulated a call/put volume ratio of 2.55 -- higher than 77% of all similar readings from the last year -- despite the stock's nearly 13% year-over-year loss.

As alluded to, Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) will report fourth-quarter earnings bright and early on Thursday. Historically speaking, the shares have averaged a single-session post-earnings move of 2.7% following the company's last eight trips to the confessional. However, the options market is currently pricing in a 3.4% move, suggesting pre-event premiums are relatively expensive.

Daily Chart of C since January 2014

 

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