McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Options Sizzle on Pokemon Go Pact

McDonald's Corporation (MCD) is up big after the restaurant chain secured a deal with Pokemon Go

Jul 19, 2016 at 11:54 AM
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Pokemon Go has been among the most surprising market drivers of late. One stock the mobile game is boosting today is McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD), following reports the fast-food chain will be Pokemon Go's first sponsored location when it launches tomorrow in Japan. At last check, MCD stock is 1.7% higher at $125.89, and its options are flying off the shelves.

Specifically, options volume is in the 98th percentile of its annual range, with calls running at eight times the expected intraday pace. According to Trade-Alert, speculators are buying to open the weekly 7/29 128 strike -- which is MCD's most active option by a mile. In particular, one trader bought to open a block of 10,477 weekly calls for $0.66 apiece, shelling out a total of nearly $700,000 (premium paid * number of contracts * 100 shares per contract) in hopes the stock will topple $128 by next Friday's close, when the series expires.

Meanwhile, even shorter-term traders are also active. Specifically, buy-to-open activity is detected at the weekly 7/22 126-, 127-, and 128-strike calls, hinting at bullish expectations through this Friday's closing bell, when the weekly series expires.

MCD has certainly earned this optimism, based on its strong technical performance. On a year-over-year basis, the restaurant stock has soared over 29%, and, more recently, took a big bounce off its 200-day moving average during the post-"Brexit" broad-market pullback.

Yet, today's glass-half-full approach has been more of an exception than a rule. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open 1.83 puts for every call during the last 50 sessions. The corresponding put/call volume ratio ranks in the bearishly skewed 83rd annual percentile -- though some of the put buying may have been at the hands of shareholders hedging, perhaps ahead of next Tuesday morning's earnings report.

Echoing this put-skew, MCD's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) checks in at 2.17. Not only does this reading indicate puts more than double calls among options expiring in the next three months, but it also is situated just 4 percentage points from a 52-week peak. From a contrarian perspective, extended upside in the shares could force "vanilla" bears to capitulate, potentially bolstering buying power.

Upgrades and price-target hikes are also a possibility for McDonald's Corporation (NYSE:MCD). Over three-fifths of covering analysts rate the stock a "hold" or worse, and its consensus 12-month price target of $130.71 represents a less than 4% premium to current levels. In other words, a raft of bullish analyst attention could act as another positive catalyst for MCD shares.

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