Allergan plc (AGN) Calls Pick Up as Stock Extends Hot Streak

Allergan plc (AGN) call options are being exchanged at twice the normal intraday rate

Dec 30, 2016 at 1:54 PM
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With Allergan plc Ordinary Shares (NYSE:AGN) on track for its fifth consecutive win -- and a nearly 6% weekly gain -- the drugmaker's call options are flying off the shelves at double the usual intraday rate. At last check, 11,500 contracts were on the tape, roughly tripling the number the number of puts exchanged.

Taking a quick step back, AGN is up 1.6% at $210.53. This week's collective momentum represents quite the respite for the drug stock, which is among the worst performers on the S&P 500 Index (SPX) in 2016, down close to 33% year-to-date. That said, the shares are approaching their 80-day moving average, which threatens to act as a layer of resistance -- as it did in early October.

As described earlier, AGN call options are accelerated. Digging more deeply into the action, one trader may have rolled a bearish short call position of 500 contracts out and up from the January 2017 215 strike to the February 225 strike. If this is the case, the call writer is giving himself some extra breathing room -- in case Allergan continues to rally in the short term -- as well as an extra month for the long-term downtrend to resume.

While short-term calls are the options of choice today, that hasn't always been the case. Specifically, when looking at near-the-money strikes in the front three-months' series, open interest is put-heavy, per AGN's gamma-weighted Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.68.

Outside of the options arena, sentiment appears to be more upbeat -- somewhat surprising, given the stock's technical struggles. For one, Allergan plc Ordinary Shares (NYSE:AGN) has received 13 "buy" or better ratings, compared to four "holds" and not a single "sell." For another, short interest plunged 37% in the most recent reporting period, though this was only after the bearish positions touching a record high.

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