Herbalife Ltd. (HLF) Shrugs Off Skeptics

Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is higher today, despite pyramid-scheme accusations from New York State Senator Jeff Klein

Mar 11, 2016 at 2:29 PM
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Bill Ackman's crusade against Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) is gaining support, with New York State Senator Jeff Klein echoing Ackman's claims that the company is a pyramid scheme and introducing legislation to protect against its business practices. The negative reports are being overshadowed by a broad-market rally, however, with shares of HLF up 1.2% at $56.39. Option traders, meanwhile, are betting this upside will be short-lived.

At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), for instance, HLF's 10-day put/call volume ratio has jumped to 1.74 from 1.10 over the past two weeks. What's more, the current ratio ranks in the 75th annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at an accelerated clip.

Specifically, the stock's April 60 strike has seen the greatest increase in put open interest over this same time frame, with 12,213 contracts added. Meanwhile, in the front-month series, peak put open interest of 14,722 contracts is located at the March 55 strike. For those initiating "vanilla" puts, the goal is for HLF to settle south of the strike prices at the respective expiration dates.

Should the puts expire out of the money, though, the most the put buyers stand to lose is the initial premium paid. HLF's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 46% ranks below 81% of all comparable readings taken in the past month, and its 30-day at-the-money implied volatility of 50.8% sits in the low 35th annual percentile. In other words, those currently purchasing HLF's near-term options are getting a relative deal.

Technically, Herbalife Ltd. (NYSE:HLF) has rallied more than 33% off its mid-February low of $42.26. Additionally, a sharp pullback earlier this month on news of misstated member numbers was contained near $52 -- the site of HLF's Feb. 26 post-earnings bull gap intraday low.

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