GameStop Corp. (GME) Options Bears Brace for a Negative Earnings Reaction

GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) is scheduled to report second-quarter earnings after tonight's close

by Karee Venema

Published on Aug 25, 2016 at 2:31 PM

Options traders are pouncing on GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME), ahead of the retailer's turn in the earnings confessional after tonight's close. At last check, options were changing hands at four times the average intraday pace, with roughly 14,300 calls and 8,700 puts on the tape. Given the stock's dismal post-earnings history, it appears a number of options traders are bracing for another decline in tomorrow's trading.

Specifically, although calls have the edge over puts, GME's weekly 8/26 29.50-strike put has seen the most action. Plus, it seems safe to assume new positions are being purchased here, meaning put buyers expect the stock to breach the $29.50 level by the time the weekly options expire at tomorrow's close. GME hasn't finished a week south of this strike since mid-July.

Widening the sentiment scope reveals it's been call buyers who have had the upper hand in GME's options pits in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the equity's 10-day call/put volume ratio is docked at a top-heavy 2.09. Additionally, this ratio ranks in the 59th annual percentile, meaning calls have been bought to open over puts at a slightly faster-than-usual clip.

Echoing this is GME's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.96. Not only does this show that calls nearly double puts among options expiring in three months or less, but it ranks higher than 79% of all comparable readings taken in the past year. In other words, short-term speculators are more call-heavy than usual toward GME stock.

This skepticism isn't confined to the options arena, either. Short interest surged 11.7% in the two most recent reporting periods, and now accounts for a brow-raising 30.2% of the stock's available float. Plus, it would take almost 14 sessions to cover these bearish bets, at the stock's average daily pace of trading.

Looking at the charts, it's not hard to see why sentiment is tilted toward the bearish side, too. Year-over-year, the shares have lost more than 29%, and were last seen trading at $32.04. Plus, the stock's recent rally off its late-June lows -- thanks in part to the mid-July Pokemon Go hype -- have run out of steam near GME's 50-week moving average, a trendline not conquered on a weekly closing basis since early November.

If past is precedent, the stock could be in for some additional headwinds after GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) unveils its second-quarter results tonight. Over the past four quarters, specifically, GME has averaged a single-session post-earnings loss of 5.4%. Meanwhile, for tomorrow's trading, the options market is pricing in a 13% swing for the security, regardless of direction.

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