Freeport-McMoRan Traders Turn a Blind Eye to Recent Rally

Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX) is up roughly 12% week-to-date

by Karee Venema

Published on Apr 15, 2015 at 2:56 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 12:26 PM

Put players have been active in Freeport-McMoRan Inc's (NYSE:FCX) options pits in recent months. In fact, FCX's 50-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 0.99 ranks in the 92nd annual percentile. Simply stated, puts have been bought to open over calls at a faster clip just 8% of the time within the past year.

In today's session, puts are trading at two times what's typically seen at this point in the day. The stock's August 16 put has seen the most action, and according to Trade-Alert, a portion of this activity is of the buy-to-open kind. By initiating the long puts, speculators are betting on FCX to breach $16 by the close on Friday, Aug. 21, when the series expires -- territory not charted since March 2009.

Technically speaking, FCX has been in a steady downtrend since topping out at an annual high of $39.32 last July, off 47%. However, the shares have been in rally mode this week up 15% -- including a 10% pop today -- to trade at $20.99. Regardless of where FCX settles at August options expiration, though, the most today's put buyers stand to lose is the premium paid.

Outside of the option pits, sentiment among the brokerage bunch is mixed, although Monday's upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" and price-target hike to $23 from $19 at Citigroup -- which also weighed in on sector peer Cliffs Natural Resources Inc (NYSE:CLF) -- could suggest opinions are shifting. Specifically, eight analysts maintain a "buy" or better rating on FCX, versus seven "holds" or worse. Meanwhile, on the fundamental front, Atlantic Copper -- Freeport-McMoRan Inc's (NYSE:FCX) smelter in Spain -- said it will produce less copper this year due to previously scheduled maintenance.


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