Option Bear Sees a Speed Bump for General Electric Company (GE)

A call seller is betting General Electric Company (GE) will hit resistance around the $33 region

Mar 31, 2016 at 3:44 PM
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After filing an application with the Financial Stability Oversight Council to have the "too big to fail" classification removed from its GE Capital unit -- in the same vein as this insurer -- General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) rose to a new seven-year high of $32.05. The stock, last seen up 0.3% at $31.93, has been marching higher in recent weeks after bouncing off support in the $27-28 region, which served as resistance to the shares in 2014 and much of 2015. But as GE edges closer to its pre-recession levels, some skeptical option traders are betting on a bump in the road.

160331GE

Calls are changing hands at a faster-than-usual clip today, with the May 33 call -- where over 14,500 contracts have traded -- the most active option by far. Drilling down, it appear one trader sold to open a block of at least 13,000 of these calls. By selling to open the calls, the trader is betting that GE will remain below $33.00 until the option expires on Friday, May 20. He may be expecting the $32-33 region -- which served as support numerous times in the years leading up to the financial crisis -- to serve as resistance for the shares going forward.

If these call expires worthless, the seller will pocket the premiums collected in the sale. At a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of 28 cents, the seller of 13,000 May 33 calls would collect $364,000 (VWAP x 100 shares per contract x 13,000 contracts). But if GE does continue its rally north of $33 -- perhaps in the event of a post-earnings rally later this month -- the seller's losses are theoretically unlimited.

And from a volatility perspective, now appears to be a more enticing time to buy GE's near-term options than to sell them. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 14% is lower than 96% of the past year's readings. That means GE's short-term options are pricing in historically low volatility expectations -- meaning premiums are relatively inexpensive.

Taking a step back, GE could see more upside, should bears hit the bricks. Although option bears have been backing off their bets in recent weeks, the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) still outranks nearly two-thirds of the past year's ratings. And 40% of analysts rate General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) a lukewarm "hold," despite the stock's quest for new highs -- leaving the door wide open for upgrades.

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