Most Active Options: Priceline Group Inc and Amazon.com, Inc.

Weekly option traders have been wagering on Priceline Group Inc (PCLN) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN)

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Nov 16, 2015 at 12:47 PM

The 20 stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total weekly options volume during the past 10 trading days. Names highlighted are new to the list since the last time the study was run, and data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Two notable names are online travel concern Priceline Group Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) and mega e-tailer Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN).

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PCLN is taking a hit today, down 4.5% at $1,239.42, as travel stocks swoon in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. The stock is poised for its lowest close since Sept. 30, and it looks like option traders today are gambling on even more downside in the short term.

PCLN puts are crossing the tape at twice the average intraday rate, with apparent buy-to-open action detected at the November 1,200 and 1,250 puts. By purchasing the 1,200-strike puts to open, the buyers expect PCLN to breach the round-number level -- territory not charted since late September -- by Friday's close, when front-month options expire. Buyers of the 1,250-strike puts expect PCLN to extend its slide beneath the strike through the end of the week.

Prior to Friday's tragic events, PCLN calls were the options of choice. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), Priceline Group Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) has racked up a 50-day call/put volume ratio of 1.31 -- higher than 98% of all other readings from the past year.

AMZN is also swimming in red ink -- but for a different reason. The stock has shed 1.2% to sit at $634.68, amid news that Germany is probing the company's audiobooks deal with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).

AMZN options are trading at an accelerated pace today, with one speculator apparently employing puts to bet on a near-term floor for AMZN. Specifically, it looks like the trader initiated a short put spread at the November 602.50 and 607.50 puts, and will pocket the initial net credit as long as AMZN stays atop $607.50 through Friday's close, when front-month options expire.

Put buying has been prevalent on AMZN, but considering the stock has more than doubled in 2015, some of the recent buyers could be shareholders seeking a hedge. Whatever the motive, AMZN sports a 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.99 -- in the 88th percentile of its annual range. What's more, total put open interest stands higher than 304,000 contracts, as of Friday's close -- an annual high.

Plus, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is attractive from a historical volatility standpoint. In fact, the equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) is perched at a lofty 89, indicating that AMZN has tended to make outsized moves on the charts during the past year, relative to what the options market has priced in.


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