MGM Resorts International (MGM) Takeover Chatter Draws Option Bulls

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) calls are trading at three times the average intraday pace, as takeover chatter swirls

by Karee Venema

Published on Oct 25, 2016 at 2:03 PM

MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) call options are flying off the shelves today, and according to Trade-Alert, the accelerated activity is courtesy of unconfirmed takeover chatter. Regardless, roughly 16,300 calls have traded on MGM stock -- over three times the expected intraday amount of 4,505, and 10 times the number of puts on the tape. And even though MGM stock has spent almost the entire session in the red, a number of options buyers are betting on a quick bounce by week's end.

Drilling down, MGM's weekly 10/28 26.50-strike call has seen the most action thus far, with 6,879 contracts traded. It seems safe to assume new positions are being purchased here -- a theory echoed by Trade-Alert. If this is the case, the goal is for MGM stock to break out above $26.50 by this Friday's close, when the weekly series expires.

More broadly speaking, options traders have shown a clear preference for puts over calls among options expiring in three months or less. MGM's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.55 ranks just 4 percentage points from a 52-week peak.

In fact, four of MGM's top five open interest positions are puts expiring in the standard November and December series. While it's not clear at this time whether these are long or short positions, put open interest at the November 20 and 23 and December 20 and 24 strikes collectively accounts for 61,308 contracts outstanding -- or 18% of MGM's total open interest.

Outside of the options arena, sentiment is upbeat toward the casino stock. With MGM stock just two weeks removed from hitting a multi-year high, short sellers have been jumping ship. In the most recent reporting period, specifically, short interest dropped 10.5%, and now accounts for a low 3% of the equity's available float.

Elsewhere, all 15 analysts covering the shares maintain a "buy" or "strong buy" rating, while the average 12-month price target of $30.53 sits in territory not charted since September 2008. Plus, Jim Cramer waxed optimistic on MGM during last night's "Mad Money Lightning Round," saying he's "been behind them for a long time."

This optimism isn't unfounded, either. Year-to-date, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM) has surged along with its sector peers -- up 15%. Additionally, the stock tagged a two-year high of $27.04 on Oct.10, though it was last seen slightly lower at $26.14. Regardless of where MGM stock settles the week, though, the most today's call buyers stand to lose is the initial premium paid.

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