Option Volume Pops as Baidu, Inc., Qihoo 360 Technology Co. Ltd. Heat Up

Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (NYSE:QIHU) have had strong days

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jun 5, 2015 at 2:14 PM

Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) and Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (NYSE:QIHU) are among a number of Chinese stocks on the up and up today. Not surprisingly, option volume is accelerated on both equities.

Diving right in, BIDU is up 1.4% at $207.08, and has seen 37,000 contracts cross so far -- compared to an expected intraday amount of 26,000. A number of traders are counting on additional upside through today's close, buying to open the weekly 6/5 207.50- and 210-strike calls. However, slightly longer-term speculators may also be purchasing new positions at the July 190 put -- counting on the stock to breach $190 by the close on Friday, July 17, when back-month options expire.

BIDU put buying has been extremely popular of late. In fact, the equity's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 0.81 outranks 97% of comparable readings from the previous 12 months.

This skepticism is understandable, given Baidu Inc's (NASDAQ:BIDU) longer-term struggles -- down more than 9% in 2015. However, considering the shares have gained close to 10% since their mid-May low of $188.60, it's possible recent put buyers -- especially at out-of-the-money strikes -- are shareholders picking up options insurance.

Turning our attention to QIHU, the cybersecurity stock is up sharply at $60.17 -- along with several sector peers. On the options front, calls are being exchanged at six times the usual intraday rate, with eleventh-hour bulls buying to open the weekly 6/5 55.50- and 58.50-strike calls. In other words, these traders are counting on extended gains through tonight's close, when the series expires.

QIHU calls have been flying off the shelves recently, per its 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 6.49 -- an annual extreme. This, despite the equity being 30% lower year-over-year. Should Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd (NYSE:QIHU) resume its long-term downtrend and optimism wane, it could apply additional pressure on the shares.

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