Option Bears Blast Outperforming Lululemon Athletica inc. (LULU)

Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) is lingering in multi-year-high territory

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 9, 2016 at 10:37 AM

Retail stocks are in focus this week, as a number of notable names report quarterly earnings -- and with retail sales data due on Friday. Today, while yoga apparel maker Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) retreats from multi-year-high territory, both calls and puts are seeing accelerated activity in the stock's options pits. Plus, LULU stock's 30-day implied volatility is up another 8.2% at 38.7%, after soaring 25.7% on Monday.

Drilling down on today's action, overall option volume is running at two times what's typically seen at this point, and puts have a healthy lead over calls. However, this put-skewed bias is just par for the course in LULU's options pits. In fact, 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 of 1.42 ranks in the 84th annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at an accelerated clip.

Echoing this is LULU's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.67. Not only does this show that puts nearly double calls among options set to expire in three months or less, but it rests higher than 76% of all comparable readings taken in the past year. In other words, short-term speculators are more put-heavy than usual toward LULU.

While some of this activity could be a result of shareholders protecting paper profits on the outperforming stock, sentiment outside of the options pits is skewed toward the skeptical side, as well. Specifically, short interest accounts for a brow-raising 17.6% of LULU's available float. What's more, it would take almost three weeks to cover these bearish bets, at the equity's average daily pace of trading.

As indicated, though, Lululemon Athletica inc. (NASDAQ:LULU) has been an absolute standout on the charts. Despite today's 0.4% dip that has LULU trading at $78.19, the shares have surged more than 81% since hitting an annual low of $43.14 in mid-November. Plus, the stock tagged $78.96 yesterday -- its loftiest perch since June 2013. Should the shares resume their longer-term uptrend, a capitulation from some of the weaker bearish hands could translate into a fresh burst of buying power for LULU stock.

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