Krux, Dreamforce Spark Bullish Options Betting On Salesforce.com

salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) is seeing a rush of bullish brokerage notes and options activity, as Dreamforce gets underway

Karee Venema
Oct 4, 2016 at 3:20 PM
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As the broader stock market struggles, salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) is trading 2.8% higher at $72.51. Boosting CRM is a handful of upbeat brokerage notes as Dreamforce -- the cloud firm's annual developer's conference -- gets underway, as well as news of the company's $700 million cash-and-stock purchase of marketing data start-up Krux. As analysts wax optimistic, CRM stock's options pits are being flooded by call buyers, who are betting on even more upside in the near term.

Diving deeper, Pivotal Research said it views CRM's purchase of Krux "very favorably," as it "further illustrates the blurring lines between ad tech, marketing tech, and digital media" -- and makes CRM's rumored interest in takeover target Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) all the more intriguing. Elsewhere, Goldman Sachs said the stock's recent pullback presents a buying opportunity, citing "confidence in CRM's core business." Plus, both both brokerage firms maintained their "buy" ratings, while reiterating respective price targets of $105 and $96, well into record-high territory.

Options traders are sharing in this optimism, too, with calls trading at two times what's typically seen at this point in the day -- and outpacing puts by a 3-to-1 margin. Most active is CRM's November 77.50 call, where it looks like new positions are being purchased. If this is the case, the goal for call buyers is for CRM stock to surge north of $77.50 by the time the back-month options expire at the close on Friday, Nov. 18.

However, this tilt toward long calls only echoes the trend seen in CRM's options pits in recent weeks. Specifically, at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's top-heavy 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.61 ranks in the elevated 71st annual percentile.

Outside of the options arena, meanwhile, short interest surged 22% in the most recent reporting period -- and is now docked at levels not seen since last October. As such, it's possible some of the recent call buying is a result of short sellers hedging their bearish bets against any upside risk.

Technically, CRM stock has put in a solid showing since bottoming at an annual low of $52.60 in mid-February, up more than 38%. And while a disappointing late-August earnings report sent the shares of salesforce.com, inc. (NYSE:CRM) on a path lower, the bleeding appears to have stopped near $70 -- an area that's served as both support and resistance since February 2015.

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