Options Sentiment Shifts Ahead of NVIDIA Corporation (NVDA) Earnings

NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) short sellers may be using call options to hedge ahead of the company's earnings release

by Josh Selway

Published on May 12, 2016 at 1:54 PM

NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) options traders have been betting bearishly ahead of the circuit maker's earnings release, scheduled for after the close today. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), NVDA's 10-day put/call volume ratio has jumped from 0.62 to 1.10 in the past week, with the current reading topping 78% of all others from the past year. Said simply, put buying has been more popular than normal on NVDA. 

Today, however, things have taken a twist. NVDA calls are trading at seven times the intraday average, with volume running in the 98th percentile of its annual range. Plus, calls roughly double puts. The most popular option -- the May 36 call -- appears to be seeing both buy- and sell-to-open activity. The goal for those purchasing the calls is for NVDA to topple $36 before front-month options expire at the close on Friday, May 20. By contrast, the call writers expect this strike to serve as resistance. 

This increased call activity begs the question as to whether short sellers are hedging ahead of tonight's quarterly earnings event. That's because over 12% of NVDA's float is sold short -- or a stunning 9.3 days' worth of buying power, according to the stock's normal trading levels. 

Given the stock's past post-earnings performances, hedging wouldn't be a bad idea for bears. Specifically, NVDA has posted gains of 8.6%, 13.9%, and 12.4% in the sessions immediately following its past three earnings releases. In fact, it seems some short sellers have already decided to throw in the towel, as short interest fell by over 18% during the two previous reporting periods. 

And why wouldn't they, considering NVIDIA Corporation's (NASDAQ:NVDA) technical ferocity? The stock has added 69% year-over-year at $35.40, and has beat out the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by nearly 22 percentage points over the past three months. NVDA is also sitting atop a seemingly double-barreled level of support, near the $34-$35 area -- marking the stock's December highs -- and its rising 60-day moving average. With a potential short-squeeze already in the cards, this technical set-up only makes NVDA's prospects that much more appealing. 

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