Options Traders Bet on Record Highs for Beer Stocks After South Africa Deal

Beer stocks are trading higher after Anheuser Busch Inbev SA's (ADR) (NYSE:BUD) $69 million agreement with South Africa

Apr 14, 2016 at 2:48 PM
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Beer giants Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE:TAP) and Anheuser Busch Inbev SA (ADR) (NYSE:BUD) both shot higher at midday, on news the latter company will create a $69 million fund to aid the South African beer industry and help bolster its takeover bid for SABMiller. Not only are TAP and BUD both trading higher on these developments, but the stocks' options pits are seeing accelerated activity. 

TAP call options are trading at four times the average intraday pace, and the most popular option is the May 97.50 strike. Buy-to-open activity has been detected here, meaning traders are speculating that TAP will eclipse $97.50 before the close on Friday, May 20, when the soon-to-be front-month options expire. For reference, TAP's all-time high stands at $97.25, reached earlier this month. 

Looking back, though, TAP put buying has been through the roof lately at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Specifically, the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio comes in at a sky-high 31.00 -- an annual peak. However, the most popular option during this time frame, judging by increases to open interest, was the May 100 call -- which has added nearly 8,300 positions in the past two weeks.

At last check, Molson Coors Brewing Company (NYSE:TAP) was up 2.9% at $95.60. Since pulling back from its record highs earlier this month, TAP has been enjoying support from its rising 30-day moving average, a trendline that guided the stock higher back in October and November. Overall, the beer stock is up 24% year-over-year. 

In BUD's options pits, puts are trading at twice the expected intraday pace. The most popular is the May 115 strike, and it looks like this option may be seeing sell-to-open activity. If so, these put writers are hoping for the $115 level to act as a short-term floor for the stock through May options expiration. 

On the other side of the aisle, traders are initiating long calls at the April 130 strike. This means they're betting on a surge past $130 -- roughly corresponding to the stock's all-time high -- from BUD by the end of this week, when front-month options expire. 

Call buying is common among BUD speculators. In fact, the stock's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio stands at an annual high of 112.14. Digging deeper, the January 2018 170-strike call has added more than 20,000 new positions in the last 10 trading days -- the most of any BUD option -- while short-term speculators have targeted the May 135 call, where over 13,500 contracts have been tacked on.

As alluded to, Anheuser Busch Inbev SA's (ADR) (NYSE:BUD) all-time high of $130.08 was reached back in November. It's been a roller-coaster ride for the shares since then, but with BUD's 2.6% pop today at $125.44, the stock has edged its way back into positive year-to-date territory. 

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