Qiyi Buyout Offer Fires Up Baidu Inc (BIDU) Option Traders

Baidu Inc (ADR) (BIDU) received a $2.8 billion buyout offer for its stake in Qiyi

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Feb 12, 2016 at 11:34 AM

Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) is breaking out today, after the Chinese Internet firm announced it has received a non-binding buyout offer for its stake in Qiyi worth $2.8 billion. At last check, the stock has shot 7.4% higher at $151.71, sending option traders into overdrive. Specifically, almost 20,000 BIDU calls and puts are on the tape, more than doubling the expected intraday amount.

Last-minute option traders are especially active. In fact, three of the four most active strikes belong to the weekly 2/12 series, which expires at tonight's close. From the looks of it, traders may be buying to open BIDU's weekly 2/12 155-strike call, expecting the stock's upward momentum to carry it north of $155 by the closing bell.

Taking a step back, BIDU put buyers have been far more active than usual in recent months at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Specifically, the stock's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 1.01 ranks just 2 percentage points from an annual high.

Regardless of whether traders are buying calls or puts, now is an expensive time to purchase premium on short-term BIDU options -- not entirely surprising, with earnings due out in less than two weeks. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 60% outstrips 87% of all other readings from the past year, while its 30-day at-the-money implied volatility ranks in the 99th percentile of its annual range.

Technically speaking, Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BAIDU) has been extremely weak since its late-November high at $217.97. Even after today's big gains, the stock has dropped over 30% from then til now.

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