Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Calls Hot on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) Lift

Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is seeing a rare surge in call volume today

May 21, 2015 at 1:48 PM
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Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) is up 2.1% at $43.67 -- perhaps on an analyst-induced halo lift from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA). Option traders are responding in kind, with calls crossing the tape at nearly two times what's typically seen at this point in the day, and outpacing puts by an almost 2-to-1 ratio.

Receiving notable attention has been YHOO's weekly 5/22 44-strike call, where it appears new positions are being purchased. If traders are indeed buying to open the near-the-money calls, the goal is for the stock to rally north of the strike through tomorrow's close -- when the weekly series expires. Amid today's pop, delta on the call has almost tripled to 0.34 from 0.12 at last night's close, indicating an increased probability of an in-the-money finish.

This optimism runs counter to the withstanding trend seen in YHOO's options arena. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.69 sits just 1 percentage point from a 52-week peak. In other words, puts have been bought to open over calls at a near-annual-high clip.

Echoing this is the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.65, which ranks in the 92nd percentile of its annual range. Simply stated, short-term speculators are more put-heavy than usual toward YHOO.

On the charts, Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) has struggled since hitting a 13-year high of $52.62 in November, off 17%. These recent technical troubles were exacerbated earlier this week, when YHOO took an IRS-related dive -- a move that analysts were quick to take note of.

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