Stock, Options Volume Pop as SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS) Tanks

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (SEAS) hit a record low on news the company has suspended its quarterly dividend

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Sep 20, 2016 at 11:32 AM

It's been a rough day so far for SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS), which plummeted out of the gate on news the company suspended its quarterly dividend, tapping a record low of $11.77. The shares have since pared some of their losses, but remain 3.8% lower at $12.21. In the meantime, action is picking up in SEAS' options pits.

Diving right in, SEAS calls are changing hands at five times the usual intraday rate, with 711 contracts on the tape -- more than three times the number of puts. This represents a sharp change of pace, considering put open interest is seated in the high 88th percentile of its annual range, while call open interest is in just the 30th percentile. Most active so far today is the just-in-the-money October 12 call, though it looks like the bulk of the action may be coming from traders closing their existing positions.

Options traders have been strongly favoring long puts over calls in recent weeks. In fact, SEAS' 50-day put/call volume ratio across the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) sits at a top-heavy 4.18. But near-term traders have actually been less put-heavy than usual. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.96 ranks lower than 87% of all readings in the last 12 months.

Elsewhere, short interest on SEAS has been falling -- down 14.3% in the most recent reporting periods alone -- but still accounts for nearly one-quarter of the security's available float. It would take more than two weeks for short sellers to cover all their remaining positions, at SEAS' typical pace of trading.

Speaking of technicals, SEAS has dropped 44% since topping out at an annual high of $21.85 in mid-April. Nonetheless, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE:SEAS) is drawing a crowd today, with stock volume on pace to finish the day just 2 percentage points from an annual high. 

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