Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp (CTSH) Surge Has Options Bulls Buzzing

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp (NASDAQ:CTSH) is trading higher after Elliott Management sent a "value-proposition" letter to its board of directors

Nov 28, 2016 at 10:56 AM
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Shares of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp (NASDAQ:CTSH) are soaring, after the IT firm received a letter from Elliott Management that lays out a "value-enhancement plan." Specifically, the activist investor -- which owns a 4% stake in CTSH -- requested a meeting with Cognizant Technology's board of directors to detail its goal of achieving a value of "$80-$90+ per share by the end of 2017, representing upside of 50-69 percent in just over a year."  At last check, CTSH stock was trading up 8.5% at $57.79 -- the top percentage gainer on the S&P 500 Index (SPX) -- and its options pits were bustling, with calls once again outpacing puts.

Drilling down, roughly 7,400 call have traded, compared to fewer than 2,200 puts -- five times CTSH's expected intraday options volume. Most active is the weekly 12/2 59-strike call, where it appears new positions are being purchased. If this is the case, call buyers expect the tech stock to extend today's upside over the next several sessions, and break out above $59 by Friday's close, when the weekly series expires.

This call-skewed trading is nothing new in CTSH's options pits, though. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 2.74 ranks just 8 percentage points from a 52-week peak. Simply stated, calls have been bought to open over puts at a near-annual-high clip in recent months.

What's more, CTSH call open interest of 93,497 contracts is docked at a 52-week peak, compared to 46,990 put options outstanding -- in the 87th percentile of its annual range. Most of this call activity has been centered at CTSH's January 2017 55-strike and April 55 calls -- the stock's top two open interest positions -- where a collective 53,105 contracts currently reside. Based on data from Trade-Alert and the major options exchanges, there's been some notable buy-to-open activity at these two strikes, meaning traders were eyeing a move north of $55 over the next several months.

On the charts, CTSH is down 10.5% year-over-year, with any upside attempts quickly contained in the $63 range. More recently, the stock's 200-day moving average has served as a ceiling for the shares, although today's bull gap has shares of Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp (NASDAQ:CTSH) north of here. Should the equity close above this trendline, it would mark the first time CTHS has done so since June 23.

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