Bargain-Hunting Options Buyers Target General Motors Company (GM) Puts

General Motors Company (GM) option buyers are targeting puts, in a change of pace for the stock

Jul 28, 2016 at 12:59 PM
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General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) is slumping in sympathy with sector peer Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), off 3.7% at $30.82, after Ford reported disappointing earnings and guidance. And while GM slips, giving up a recent foothold above the $32 level, and falling into negative year-over-year territory, options traders are changing their tune, purchasing puts at an unusually rapid pace.

Specifically, GM puts are changing hands at four times the expected daily rate, with intraday volume running in the 99th percentile of its annual range. Much of this action is the result of a sweep of nearly 11,000 weekly 8/5 31-strike puts that appears to have been bought to open. The buyer of these puts is betting GM will continue its slide through the end of next week, when the series expires. Meanwhile, the August and September 30 puts have also been popular.

Today's action is an about-face for GM options traders, who have been buying calls over puts at an extreme rate in recent weeks. In fact, the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) sits at 4.00 -- an annual high.

It's also a particularly attractive time to pick up the stock's near-term options, with premium currently pricing in historically low volatility expectations. GM's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility of 21.9% sits in the low 6th percentile its 12-month range, while its Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 19% represents an annual low. On a related note, the equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) checks in at a healthy 73, indicating the options market has tended to underprice GM's ability to make outsized moves over the last year.

While General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) has shed roughly 9% of its value in 2016, the company's earnings did beat expectations last week, and were accompanied by an upbeat full-year outlook -- helping the stock to an impressive 13-session winning streak that was only recently snapped. In any case, today's breather may have been due, considering the stock's 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) of 69 last night was right on the edge of overbought territory.

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