Safety Check Glitch Fails to Contain Facebook Inc (FB), Option Bulls

Facebook Inc (FB) continues its ascent despite yesterday's Safety Check malfunction

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Mar 28, 2016 at 11:25 AM

Facebook Inc's (NASDAQ:FB) Safety Check alert service malfunctioned yesterday following the terrorist bombing in Lahore, Pakistan -- asking users thousands of miles away if they were affected by the explosion. The glitch hasn't negatively impacted the stock -- with FB last seen 0.4% higher at $113.47, thanks to a much-hyped product release -- while option traders are placing bullish bets.

Currently, FB calls are changing hands at 1.5 times the usual intraday rate, and more than twice the pace of puts. One strike seeing clear buy-to-open activity is the out-of-the-money April 119 call, as traders forsee the shares toppling $119 -- and notching new record highs -- by front-month expiration, at the close on Friday, April 15.

Taking a step back, option traders have been buying to open puts over calls at a faster-than-usual clip in recent weeks. FB's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 0.77 ranks just 3 percentage points from an annual high. 

That's not to say all the put buyers are bears. Since hitting a February low of $96.82 and bouncing from its 160-day trendline, FB has advanced over 17%. As such, some of the put buyers may be shareholders hedging against a surprise downside move.

More clearly in the bullish camp is the brokerage crowd. Of the 28 analysts tracking FB, 27 have handed out a "buy" or better rating. Likewise, the consensus 12-month price target of $133.93 stands in uncharted territory, and at an 18% premium to current levels.

While the Safety Check glitch is front and center, it isn't the only news related to Faceook Inc (NASDAQ:FB). The Oculus Rift -- the virtual-reality headset owned by the social network -- has begun reaching consumers who preordered it in January.

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