$6 Million Trade Highlights Pfizer Inc. (PFE) Options Feeding Frenzy

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) options traders are making major moves amid today's tax inversion hoopla

by Josh Selway

Published on Apr 5, 2016 at 3:36 PM

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is up 1.8% at $31.28, with today's volume nearly doubling its previous annual high, amid the potentially damaging news surrounding its merger with Allergan plc Ordinary Shares (NYSE:AGN). In fact, Reuters reported this afternoon that PFE is now leaning toward walking away from the deal, and options volume is surging as a result.

PFE's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has jumped almost 16% to 19.5%, reflecting increased volatility expectations. Further, options volume is four times the expected intraday total, and on pace to surpass the Aug. 4 high, thanks to several large-block trades.

According to the International Securities Exchange (ISE), it looks like one trader simultaneously bought to open identical 21,000-contract blocks of the January 2017 28-strike put and 32-strike call for $1.38 and $1.52 per contract, respectively. The volatility strategy -- known as a "long strangle" -- was opened for a net debit of $2.90 per pair of contracts, or nearly $6.1 million (net debit * 100 shares per contract * number of spreads). The buyer will make money the lower PFE falls beneath $25.10 (put strike minus net debit) or rallies north of $34.90 (call strike plus net debit) by January options expiration.

Elsewhere, a sale of 10,000 Sept. 30 calls crossed earlier, as well as a sale of nearly 11,500 January 2017 30-strike calls. It's possible these were traders cashing out of their positions amid today's rally in the shares, according to Trade-Alert

Before today, it had been PFE puts that were in high demand. The stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio at the ISE, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) comes in at 1.10 -- in the 87th percentile of its annual range. However, options were popular on both sides of the aisle, as put and call open interest are at annual highs.

Pfizer Inc.'s (NYSE:PFE) rally has it on pace for its best finish in months, with help from news that the company's psoriatic arthritis drug, tofacitinib, met its main goals in a phase 3 study. However, the stock could run into a wall in the $31.50-$32 area, which acted as support in the latter half of 2015.  

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