Buyout Speculation Sparks Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG) Options Trading

Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG) is fresh off an annual high, thanks to unconfirmed takeover rumors

Oct 31, 2016 at 11:56 AM
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Harley-Davidson Inc (NYSE:HOG) is revving its proverbial engine today, up 2.2% at $57.30 amid unconfirmed private equity buyout speculation. In addition, the motorcycle stock raced to an annual high of $58.35 earlier. As the shares are heating up, so too are HOG's options pits.

At last check, calls were trading at triple the expected intraday rate, and close to 20 times the pace of puts. HOG's most active option is the weekly 11/4 56.50 strike, which is seeing likely buy-to-open activity. Traders purchasing this now in-the-money option are banking on the stock extending its gains through Friday's close, when the series expires.

Taking a step back, it's clear that today's trend toward calls simply echoes the withstanding trend seen in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), HOG has amassed a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.13 -- with long calls more than doubling puts. What's more, this ratio ranks in the high 80th annual percentile, suggesting traders have displayed a stronger-than-usual appetite toward bullish bets over bearish.

Not all HOG call buyers are necessarily bulls, though. With 14.7% of the stock's float sold short -- which would take over two weeks to cover, at the equity's average trading levels -- it's possible short sellers have been scooping up calls (especially at out-of-the-money strikes) to hedge against additional upside.

Speaking of upside, Harley-Davidson Inc (NYSE:HOG) has seen plenty of it in 2016. Year-to-date, the shares have tacked on a cool 26%, boosted in recent weeks by well-received restructuring plans. Not to mention, the stock is on track for its highest closing price since August 2015.

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