Most Active Options: Chesapeake Energy Corporation and National Bank of Greece

Wall Street is highly pessimistic toward underachieving Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) and National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NBG)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Nov 25, 2015 at 1:33 PM
Updated on Nov 25, 2015 at 2:15 PM

The 20 stocks listed in the table directly below have attracted the highest total 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 names of notable interest are commodity concern Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) and financial firm National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG).

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CHK puts have been extremely active in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has racked up a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 3.36 -- higher than 98% of comparable readings from the past year.

In today's action, CHK puts outstrip calls by a roughly 3-to-1 margin. From the looks of it, one trader may be rolling his bearish position down and out, selling to close 6,500 December 5 puts while simultaneously buying to open a matching number of February 4 puts -- though data from Trade-Alert is not conclusive.

Elsewhere, short sellers and analysts are both pretty down on the energy stock. A brow-raising 35% of CHK's float is sold short, representing two weeks of trading activity, at average volumes. Adding to the bearish bias, 17 of 19 analysts have handed out "hold" or worse recommendations.

What has Chesapeake Energy Corporation done to earn this collective ire? It's really quite simple -- the stock has lost 72% of its value in 2015 to trade at $5.45, and earlier this week touched a 13-year low of $5.04.

NBG is no stranger to steep losses, either, surrendering almost 90% this year to sit near $0.20. This stock, too, recently hit a technical "milestone" -- skimming a record low of $0.16 last week.

Those considerations help explain why traders at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX have been betting against the shares. NBG's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 6.35 ranks in the 90th percentile of its annual range. Echoing this, the equity's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.22 outstrips four out of every five comparable readings recorded in the past 52 weeks.

In today's trading, National Bank of Greece puts are outpacing calls by a nearly 11-to-1 clip. Leading the way is the December 1 put, where roughly 10,000 contracts are on the tape -- or about five times more than the next most active strike.

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