Last-Minute Option Bulls Eye Battered Priceline Group Inc (PCLN)

Priceline Group Inc (PCLN) is leading travel stocks lower after the surprise "Brexit" result

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:24 AM
Updated on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:29 AM

Travel stock Priceline Group Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) is joining a number of sector peers in falling sharply today, in the wake of the "Brexit" referendum results. At last check, PCLN has shed 9.1% to trade at $1,264.34, dropping into negative year-to-date territory. Options traders don't seem to be giving in to fear, however, as many are picking up last-minute bullish bets.

PCLN calls are changing hands at four time their typical intraday rate, with more than 19,000 contracts on the tape so far. In fact, call and total options volume are on pace to finish the day in the top percentile of their respective annual ranges.

The most popular options so far today are the stock's weekly 6/24 1,310- and 1,300-strike calls, where it appears some traders are purchasing new positions. Buyers of these weekly calls are betting the shares will bounce back above the respective strike prices by tonight's close, when the series expires.

Heading into today's session, near-term options buyers have been getting a bargain, with PCLN's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 22% parked in the low 5th percentile of its 12-month range. But it looks like that may be changing today, as the stock's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has spiked 36.5% higher to 29%.

A preference for calls has been the norm in PCLN's options pits lately. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 1.25 is higher than roughly two-thirds of the all readings taken in the last 52 weeks.

Outside of the options pits, skepticism remains. Whether pessimism picks up going forward remains to be seen, but a couple of key trendlines could come into play. On the one hand, Priceline Group Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) has fallen well below a recent foothold at its 40-day moving average; on the other, its 160-day trendline may be re-emerging as support.

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