Novavax, Inc. (NVAX) Options Fly Off the Shelves After FDA Nod

Novavax, Inc. (NVAX) options are flying off the shelves after the company's vaccine received "fast track" status from the FDA

May 25, 2016 at 11:30 AM
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Drugmaker Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) has rocketed 5.9% higher to $5.82, after the company's respiratory vaccine received "fast track" status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The stock rallied as high as $6.06 in early trading, and is poised to close the week atop its 20-week moving average for the first time since September. However, NVAX options players aren't convinced, with puts flying off the shelves at a rapid-fire rate.

NVAX puts are trading at 31 times the average intraday rate, and volume is on pace to hit an annual high. Further, NVAX puts have more than quadrupled calls thus far, with most of the action transpiring at the October 5 put. Specifically, the International Securities Exchange (ISE) confirms that a block of October 5 puts was bought to open -- meaning the buyer is either betting on an intermediate-term pullback for NVAX, or buying options protection to lock in share gains.

Today's appetite for long puts runs counter to the recent trend seen on the ISE, Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), where NVAX has racked up a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 19.59. This ratio registers in the 74th percentile of its annual range, pointing to a bigger-than-usual bullish bias among option buyers of late.

Outside of the options pits, NVAX could be riding a short-covering rally. Short interest represents nearly one-quarter of the equity's total available float, and would take nearly 13 sessions to unwind, at Novavax,Inc.'s (NASDAQ:NVAX) average daily trading volume. Of course, considering the elevated levels of short interest, it's possible that the aforementioned call buying -- particularly at out-of-the-money strikes -- could be attributable to bears seeking an options hedge.

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