Citron (Again) Sparks Bear Rush on Mobileye NV (MBLY)

A Citron Research tweet has Mobileye NV (MBLY) reeling, and option bears champing at the bit

Dec 16, 2015 at 1:15 PM
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Option bears are rushing driver-assistant software maker Mobileye NV (NYSE:MBLY), after Citron Research called the stock the "short of the year" for 2016. The notorious short seller had its hand in sending Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) and Mallinckrodt PLC (NYSE:MNK) sharply lower earlier this year, and took a swipe at Ambarella Inc (NASDAQ:AMBA) after predicting a fall from grace for partner GoPro Inc (NYSE:GPRO). This isn't the first time Citron has taken aim at MBLY, either; the company didn't mince words back in September, which also fueled bearish betting in the options pits.

At last check, MBLY has dropped 62% to $40.28, and it seems traders are expecting steeper losses by week's end. In early afternoon action, MBLY put options are trading at nine times the average intraday pace, and have outnumbered calls by a margin of 5-to-1. The put/call volume ratio of 5.32 is on pace for an annual high, and the equity's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has surged 11.6% to 57.2% -- higher than 84% of all other readings from the past year.

It looks like traders are buying to open the December 42, 42.50, and 43 puts, which are now in the money. By purchasing the puts to open, the buyers expect MBLY to extend its retreat beneath the strikes through Friday's close, when front-month options expire.

Today's appetite for bearish bets isn't entirely new, though. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the equity has racked up a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.25. This ratio registers in the 88th percentile of its annual range, pointing to a growing affinity for long puts over calls during the past two weeks.

Likewise, short interest on MBLY grew 19.2% during the past two reporting periods, and now accounts for more than a quarter of the stock's total available float. In fact, at MBLY's average pace of trading, it would take about 13 sessions to repurchase these pessimistic positions.

On the other hand, most analysts are optimistic toward MBLY. Specifically, nine out of 12 maintain "buy" or better opinions, with not a "sell" in sight.

On the charts, Mobileye NV (NYSE:MBLY) is now in the red year-to-date, down 0.7%.The shares are attempting to maintain support in the round-number $40 region, which has stemmed pullbacks since late March. Should Citron's forecast come to fruition, though, a round of downgrades could exacerbate selling pressure on MBLY.

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