Buyout Buzz Sparks Accelerated Options Volume On FireEye Inc (FEYE)

Takeover chatter is swirling around FireEye Inc (NASDAQ:FEYE) once again, and options volume is soaring on the cybersecurity stock

Jan 10, 2017 at 2:20 PM
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Shares of FireEye Inc (NASDAQ:FEYE) were up 3.6% earlier, and were last seen 2.3% higher at $12.98, amid unconfirmed takeover chatter. While no specifics have been given, options traders appear to be reacting to the renewed rumors, with nearly 15,000 contracts traded -- two times what's typically seen at this point in the day. Continuing a recent trend toward FEYE stock, calls are the options of choice, and are outpacing puts by a 3-to-1 margin.

Most active is FEYE's March 14 call, where 3,117 contracts have changed hands. Diving deeper, there appears to be a mix of buy- and sell-to-open activity occurring here. For those purchasing the calls, the goal is for FEYE to break out above $14 by the time the options expire at the close on Friday, March 17. Conversely, those writing to open the calls expect the strike to serve as a short-term layer of resistance.

More broadly speaking, call buyers have been busy in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculative players have bought to open 14,848 calls on FEYE, compared to 1,595 puts. What's more, the resultant call/put volume ratio of 9.31 ranks in the elevated 71st annual percentile.

This call-heavy backdrop is mirrored in FEYE's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.22. Not only does this show that calls outweigh puts by a nearly 5-to-1 margin among options expiring in three months or less, but it ranks below 85% of all comparable readings taken in the past year. In other words, short-term speculators are more call-heavy than usual toward FEYE.

However, it's likely some of this recent call buying -- particularly at out-of-the-money strikes -- is a result of short sellers hedging their bearish bets against any unexpected upside. Although short interest plunged 17.3% in the most recent reporting period, it still accounts for a healthy 14% of FEYE's available float, or 6.4 times the stock's average daily pace of trading.

Looking at the charts, short sellers have been in the driver's seat for some time -- with FEYE off more than 25% year-over-year. More recently, the shares of FireEye Inc (NASDAQ:FEYE) have added 9% in 2017, but are currently staring up at stiff resistance from their 80-day moving average. Plus, the $14 level served as a ceiling for the security in mid-December.

feye daily since january 2016

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