Option Bulls Turn Up the Heat On Starbucks Corporation (SBUX)

Options traders are betting on a Starbucks Corporation (SBUX) turnaround

by Josh Selway

Published on Aug 24, 2016 at 11:24 AM

Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX) is outperforming today, adding 1.7% at $57.38, after a California judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming the company was deceiving customers with its iced drinks. With SBUX stock volume running in the 96th percentile of its annual range, options volume is also booming, in the 98th percentile of its 12-month range. 

Looking closer, SBUX calls have outpaced puts by a nearly 4-to-1 margin, trading at five times the average intraday rate. The 57.50 strike is seeing heavy attention from call traders in the September, October, and the November series, and it looks safe to assume long positions are being initiated. Further down the list, more ambitious traders appear to be targeting the October 60 call, with those buying to open the contracts betting that SBUX will topple the round-number level for the first time since April over the next two months. 

Meanwhile, shorter-term traders are buying to open options in the weekly 8/26 series, with the 58-strike call leading the way. By doing so, these bulls are expressing confidence in SBUX continuing to move higher through the end of the week, when the weekly series expires. 

This bullish bias is part of an ongoing trend on SBUX. For instance, Trade-Alert notes that call buying was extremely popular earlier this week. Plus, data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows that call buying has nearly doubled put buying during the past two weeks. 

Confirming this preference for calls, SBUX's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.47 comes in at an annual low. In other words, traders targeting options that are set to expire within three months are more call-skewed now than at any other point in the past year. 

Meanwhile, Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) for SBUX registers at 15%, which is also a 12-month low. This tells us that the options market is pricing in unusually low volatility expectations at the moment, suggesting it's an opportune time to target SBUX's near-term options. 

Of course, this hasn't been a great year for Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX). The company reported lackluster quarterly numbers last month, and even with today's pop, the stock is down 4.4% year-to-date. On a more positive note, it seems a strong level of support is in place near the $54-$55 area, and analysts have remained optimistic, despite SBUX's underwhelming year.

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