Freeport-McMoRan Inc (FCX) Bears Cash In on Post-Earnings Slide

Options bears appear to be cashing in their bets, with Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) trading lower after earnings

by Josh Selway

Published on Apr 26, 2016 at 11:18 AM
Updated on Apr 26, 2016 at 11:18 AM

Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) is off 2.6% today at $11.05, even though the firm's first-quarter results topped estimates. What's more, the mining company announced plans to cut 25% of its workforce. In the meantime, FCX options traders are likely cheering, considering the bearish sentiment seen ahead of earnings. 

Specifically, options traders targeting contracts that expire within three months have only been more put-skewed 20% of the time in the past year, according to FCX's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.14. Along those lines, there was the huge trade last week at the mining stock's June 11 put, where one trader dropped a cool $4.9 million on what's now a winning bet. 

Puts are again active today, trading at 1.7 times the average intraday clip. It seems most of the activity may be related to traders closing positions, as bearish bettors look to lock in paper profits amid FCX's post-earnings fall.

Elsewhere, some short sellers may be wishing they'd stuck around longer, as short interest fell roughly 21% over the past two reporting periods. Nevertheless, almost 13% of FCX's float is still sold short. At the stock's average daily trading volumes, it'd take these bears over three days to cover.

As for analysts, most have taken a wait-and-see approach toward FCX. Twelve of the 15 brokerage firms that currently track the mining stock deem it just a "hold." 

On the charts, Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) has been performing well in recent months, more than doubling the returns of the S&P 500 Index (SPX) during the past 60 sessions, on a percentage basis. Longer term, though, it's a different story, with FCX losing nearly half its value in the past 12 months. 

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