Lululemon Athletica inc. (LULU) Option Bulls Make a Rare Appearance

Founder Chip Wilson issued a strongly worded open letter to Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) shareholders

by Karee Venema

Published on Jun 1, 2016 at 3:22 PM

Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) is at it again with Chip Wilson, with the founder of the yoga apparel firm issuing an open letter to shareholders. In it, Wilson -- who owns roughly 14% of LULU shares -- expressed dissatisfaction with the firm, saying it "has lost its way." Additionally, Wilson called for a declassification of the board at tomorrow's annual shareholder meeting. Nevertheless, LULU stock -- unlike its sector peers -- is up 1.9% at $66.25, and short-term options traders are eyeing even more upside.

At last check, LULU call volume was running at three times the average intraday pace, with nearly 8,000 contracts on the tape. Roughly one-fourth of this volume has centered on the weekly 6/3 67-strike call -- LULU's most active option -- and it looks like the majority of the action is of the buy-to-open kind. In other words, these weekly call buyers expect LULU to rally north of $67 by this Friday's close, when the weekly options expire.

More broadly speaking, put buying has been accelerated in recent months. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), LULU's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 1.37 ranks in the 97th annual percentile.

Echoing this is LULU's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 2.41. Not only does this show that puts more than double calls among options expiring in three months or less, but it rest just 12 percentage points from a 52-week peak. In other words, short-term traders are more put-heavy than usual toward LULU.

This skepticism is seen outside of the options pits, as well. In the two most recent reporting periods, short interest on LULU climbed 6.3%, and these bearish bets now make up a brow-raising 19.3% of the equity's available float. It would take more than two weeks to cover these shorted shares, at LULU's average daily pace of trading. A continued climb by LULU could shake some of the weaker bearish hands loose, creating a fresh burst of buying power for the stock.

In fact, LULU has been surging in 2016, up over 26% year-to-date. What's more, the round $60 mark has consistently served as support for Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) since mid-February, and helped contain the equity's pullback from its April 4 annual high of $69.73.

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