Buyout Buzz Heats Up Shake Shack Inc (SHAK) Options Pits

Talk of a buyout has Shake Shack Inc (NYSE:SHAK) stock and options volume soaring

Jul 13, 2016 at 2:33 PM
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Shake Shack Inc (NYSE:SHAK) stock and options volume are both surging today -- running in the 97th percentile of their annual ranges -- thanks to unsubstantiated buyout talk. Calls and puts are both running way above their average intraday pace, with the August 40 put coming in as the most popular overall. Data confirms traders are opening long positions here, anticipating losses for SHAK stock over the next month. On the call side, the July 39.50 strike is most popular, as traders place bets before the front-month options expire on Friday. 

Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows SHAK options traders have preferred long calls over puts in recent weeks. Specifically, the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio across these exchanges stands at 5.62.

SHAK is heavily shorted, though, so it's possible some of this call buying could be the result of short sellers buying insurance. Over the last two reporting periods, for instance, short interest grew by nearly 19% and now accounts for 42.6% of the stock's total float, or 5.7 million shares -- an all-time high.

Analysts share this pessimistic outlook. Seven of the 10 brokerage firms that cover SHAK call it a "hold" or "strong sell," and the stock's average 12-month price target is right in line with current price levels, at $39.90. 

It's difficult to blame anyone for being bearish on Shake Shack Inc (NYSE:SHAK), though. The shares have lost nearly half of their value since hitting an all-time high of $75.90 last August -- despite strong earnings in May -- are were last seen trading at $38.98. Moreover, while SHAK managed to jump above its 200-day moving average for the first time ever earlier, the round $40 level quickly sent the shares back below this trendline. This also means SHAK is below the $39 level, which has been stubbornly blocking breakout attempts since the stock's bear gap in March. 


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