Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (HOT) Option Traders Hope for a Sweeter Bid

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (NYSE:HOT) traders are buying short-term call options

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Mar 18, 2016 at 11:33 AM

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (NYSE:HOT) options are running at a breakneck pace, as the stock breaks out on an upwardly revised buyout bid from China's Anbang Insurance. Specifically, the Sheraton parent is on the brink of accepting the $13.2 billion deal -- translating to $78 per share -- but said it's giving Marriott International Inc (NASDAQ:MAR) a chance to sweeten its offer.

As alluded to, HOT options are flying off the shelves this morning. At last check, over 6,200 contracts are on the tape, or close to eight times the expected intraday rate. Most active is the April 80 call, where traders may be buying to open fresh at-the-money positions -- likely hoping the shares advance north of $80 on a better MAR bid. Marriott has until March 28 to make a rival offer. 

However, bullish betting is nothing new. During the past 10 weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open 11,620 HOT calls versus just 581 puts. The resultant 50-day call/put volume ratio of 20.00 represents an annual high.

Echoing this preference for calls over puts, HOT's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) sits at a 52-week low of 0.29. In other words, short-term call open interest more than triples put open interest -- and at a margin that hasn't been wider in the past year. Of course, part of the demand for calls may be from short sellers seeking an upside hedge. After all, short interest spiked 49.7% during the last reporting period.

At last check, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (NYSE:HOT) was up 4.7% at $79.97. This is more of the same for a stock that's outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 14.4 percentage points in the last three months.

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