Walt Disney Co (DIS) Options Trader Drops a Six-Figure Wager

Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) put options have been popular lately

by Josh Selway

Published on Jun 15, 2016 at 10:41 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

Options traders have been unusually bearish toward Dow stock Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) in recent weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). The stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio across these exchanges comes in at 1.48, which tops 99% of the past year's readings. It looks like one DIS options trader bucked this trend yesterday, though.

Specifically, a block of 5,000 DIS August 105 calls crossed on Tuesday, and it's likely the contracts were bought to open for $0.84 each. In other words, this trader spent $420,000 betting on DIS shares to climb atop $105 by the close on Friday, August 19, when the contracts expire. 

It's also possible that this was the work of a short seller looking for insurance. By the numbers, short sellers control more than a week's worth of buying power on DIS -- at its typical trading volumes -- with almost 38 million shares sold short.

No matter the strategy, it's a great time to buy short-term DIS options, as the stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 19% sits in the low 12th annual percentile. This means the options market is pricing in relatively low volatility expectations right now. Also, according to the DIS' Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) of 100, the stock has shown a tendency to make bigger moves than the options market has priced in, going back one year. 

Returning to the stock's short interest for a moment, the number of shorted DIS shares actually peaked at a roughly seven-year high back in September. Since then, short sellers have been hitting the exits rapidly, but DIS shares have still struggled on the charts -- hinting at underlying weakness in the stock. 

Digging deeper, Walt Disney Co (NYSE:DIS) is down almost 6% in 2016, and the round-number $100 level has rejected the shares several times. The stock's lone breakout above this level was quickly rejected by its year-to-date breakeven level and its 320-day moving average. Today, DIS is up 0.5% at $98.85, possibly getting a lift from the opening of its Disney Shanghai Resort. At the same time, however, tragedy struck last night at one of the company's Orlando-based Disney World resorts.

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