Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (ABX) Option Bears Eye Soros Snub

Soros Fund Management LLC lowered its stake in Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX) by 94%

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 16, 2016 at 11:31 AM
Updated on Aug 16, 2016 at 11:33 AM

Wall Street has been getting second-quarter hedge-fund holding updates in a flurry this week. Among the notable Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings is Soros Fund Management LLC -- run by George Soros -- which not only exited its stake in iPhone parent Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), but also cut its position in gold stock Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX) by 94%. In the wake of the news, ABX stock is down 1.3% at $21.24, a move options traders have seemingly been bracing for.

In fact, at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), ABX's 10-day put/call volume ratio has jumped to 0.87 from 0.38 over the course of the month. What's more, the current ratio ranks in the 80th percentile of its annual range, meaning puts have been bought to open over calls at a faster-than-usual clip.

This trend toward puts is echoed in the stock's top-heavy Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.14. Not only does this show that puts outweigh calls among options expiring in three months or less, but it ranks higher than 87% of all comparable readings taken in the past year. In other words, short-term speculators are more put-heavy than usual.

While some of this activity may be of the protective kind given ABX's standout technical performance in 2016, there's skepticism to be found outside of the options pits, as well. Of the 14 analysts covering the shares, all but three maintain a "hold" or "strong sell" recommendation. Plus, the average 12-month price target of $23.52 is within a chip-shot of the stock's present perch.

As touched upon, though, the stock has put in a stellar performance on the charts, nearly tripling in value year-to-date. Plus, today's pullback is being contained by ABX's 50-day moving average -- a rising trendline that's helped usher the shares higher throughout 2016. Should Barrick Gold Corporation (USA) (NYSE:ABX) resume its longer-term uptrend, an unwinding of skepticism both in and out of the options pits could translate into a fresh burst of buying power.

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