T-Mobile US Inc (TMUS) Merger Buzz Boosts Call Volume

Softbank is reportedly holding out hope for a T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS)-Sprint Corp (NYSE:S) union

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 17, 2016 at 3:11 PM
Updated on Aug 17, 2016 at 3:11 PM

After slipping into the red earlier, T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS) found a foothold atop its 30-day moving average -- a trendline that has helped usher the shares higher in recent months -- and was last seen up 0.5% at $46.47. Plus, TMUS stock may be getting a lift from a Bloomberg article that suggests Sprint Corp's (NYSE:S) majority owner, Softbank, is holding out hope for a possible merger between the two telecommunication firms. TMUS option volume, meanwhile, is soaring, with a number of traders eyeing even more upside in the near term.

By the numbers, roughly 3,700 call options have traded on TMUS so far, compared to about 800 put options. This is two times the average intraday pace, and echoes the call-skewed trend typically seen in TMUS' options pits.

Most active is the stock's September 49 call, where it appears new positions are being purchased. If this is the case, the goal is for TMUS to break out above $49 -- and into territory not charted since August 2007 -- by the time the back-month options expire at the close on Friday, Sept. 16. However, new highs aren't out of the question for the stock, considering it topped out at a nine-year peak of $48.11 as recently as Aug. 8 -- one day before TMUS was the target of a separate M&A scenario.

Today's trend toward short-term calls is just more of the same in TMUS' options arena. Not only does the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.24 indicate calls outpace puts by a more than 4-to-1 margin among options expiring in three months or less, but it ranks lower than 89% of all comparable readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, near-term traders are more call-heavy than usual toward the security.

Looking at the charts, it's not hard to see why options traders have shown a preference for calls over puts. Since bottoming at an annual low of $33.23 in mid-February, the shares of TMUS have surged 40%.

Plus, TMUS could get an additional boost, should short sellers continue to jump ship. While short interest edged lower in the most recent reporting period, it would still take nearly six sessions for short sellers to buy back the remaining bearish bets, leaving ample sideline cash available to help fuel the stock's fire. Separately, T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS) will host a conference call for investors tomorrow, Aug. 18.

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