Short-Term Option Bull Places Bold Bet On Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA)

Another crash linked to Tesla Motors Inc's (TSLA) "Autopilot" mode has the stock's put options trading at a brisk pace

Aug 10, 2016 at 11:52 AM
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Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has skidded 1.8% to $225, after the electric automaker reported another crash involving one of its cars being operated in "Autopilot" mode -- this time in Beijing. The rocky session has accelerated demand for TSLA put options, which are running at 1.4 times the expected intraday rate.

Nearly half of the options on the tape are centered on the weekly 8/12 217.50- and 220-strike puts. Most of these crossed in the form of a credit spread, with 5,649 contracts sold to open at the higher strike for $0.61 each, and a matching lot bought to open at the lower for $0.36 apiece -- with both transactions confirmed by International Securities Exchange (ISE) data. In so doing, this trader collected roughly $140,000 ($0.25 net credit * number of contracts * 100 shares per contract), anticipating TSLA will maintain its perch atop $220 through this Friday's close, when the weekly series expires.

Today's preference for short-term puts is business as usual. TSLA's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) registers at 1.19, meaning put open interest outstrips call open interest among options with a shelf-life of three months or less. And this is hardly surprising, given the stock's series of lower highs since topping out in early April, and its roughly 6% year-to-date loss.

Part of TSLA's recent struggles are tied to its roundly criticized buyout agreement with SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY). The solar panel maker has been hemorrhaging cash -- which was evident in last night's earnings report -- and it just lowered its full-year installation targets. Of course, other solar stocks haven't been much better off.

None of that has stopped serial entrepreneur Elon Musk's ambitions. Musk, who chairs both Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) and SolarCity Corp (NASDAQ:SCTY), just announced plans last night for the latter to begin selling solar roofs. "It's a solar roof as opposed to a module on a roof," Musk explained. "It's not a thing on the roof, it is the roof." In other news, Tesla just opened a flagship store in San Francisco. 

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