Sinking Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK) Sees a Rare Pop in Put Volume

Two of Chesapeake Energy Corporation's (NYSE:CHK) board directors resigned, including one of Carl Icahn's representatives

by Karee Venema

Published on Sep 27, 2016 at 11:11 AM

Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) is plunging, after two board directors -- including one of Carl Icahn's representatives -- resigned. Just last week, Icahn slashed his stake in Chesapeake, but did not signal any ill will toward the company. Meanwhile, sliding oil prices are weighing on CHK, too, with the energy stock last seen down 8.8% at $6.03. Against this backdrop, CHK puts are crossing at an accelerated clip, with some options traders eyeing even bigger short-term losses.

Specifically, CHK's weekly 9/30 5.50-strike put has seen the most action today among options expiring this week, and it seems safe to assume new positions are being purchased here. In other words, put buyers expect the security to breach the $5.50 mark by this Friday's close -- when the weekly options expire.

From a wider sentiment standpoint, call buyers have been active in CHK's options pits in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculative players have bought to open 38,495 calls in the past two weeks, compared to 10,246 puts. What's more, the resultant 10-day call/put volume ratio of 3.76 ranks in the elevated 83rd annual percentile.

Echoing this call-biased backdrop is CHK's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.98, which rests lower than 79% of all comparable readings taken in the past year. Simply stated, speculators are more call-heavy than usual toward options expiring in three months or less.

Given CHK's sharp rebound off its early February 16-year low of $1.50, this recent rush toward long calls could suggest bullish expectations. However, considering more than 15% of CHK's float is sold short, it's possible that some of this action is a result of shorts hedging their bearish bets against any additional upside risk.

Regardless, premium on Chesapeake Energy Corporation's (NYSE:CHK) short-term options is pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment -- a boon to options buyers. Specifically, CHK's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 70% ranks in the 5th annual percentile, while its 30-day at-the-money implied volatility of 77.9% is docked lower than 81% of comparable readings taken in the past year.

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