Option Volume Pops as Whiting Petroleum Corporation (WLL) Rallies

Whiting Petroleum Corp (WLL) call and put volume is accelerated today

Feb 3, 2015 at 12:42 PM
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Whiting Petroleum Corp (NYSE:WLL) is following its fellow energy names higher today, and was last seen up 11.8% at $36.92. Helping boost the stock is an upgrade to "buy" from "hold" -- as well as a $45 price target -- at Stifel, which is overshadowing a price-target cut to $37 from $48 at Global Hunter Securities. Options traders are just as split on the security, with calls and puts crossing the tape at an accelerated pace.

Drilling down, option bulls are eyeing a longer-term bounce, and are buying to open WLL's January 2016 45-strike call. Meanwhile, option bears are gambling on a retreat by week's end, and are purchasing new positions at the equity's weekly 2/6 36-strike put.

From a wider perspective, put buyers have taken the reins in WLL's options pits in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), for example, the equity's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.34 ranks in the bearishly skewed 85th annual percentile.

This skepticism is echoed outside of the options pits, as well. Specifically, short interest surged 28.5% in the latest reporting period, and now accounts for 9.4% of the stock's available float. What's more, short interest is sitting at its loftiest level since September 2010.

This overriding pessimism is understandable, considering WLL was sitting on a nearly 42% year-over-year deficit heading into today's trading. Given the stock's intraday surge, however, Whiting Petroleum Corp (NYSE:WLL) is on pace to close north of its 50-day moving average for the first time since Sept. 5.

Daily Chart WLL Since September 2014 With 50-Day Moving Average
 

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