Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (CMG) Option Bulls Eye Quick Breakout Above Key Trendline

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) is trading higher today on solid December sales data, but the stock is running out of steam near its 200-day moving average

Jan 10, 2017 at 10:56 AM
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Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) is trading higher, as Wall Street digests the burrito chain's mixed sales data. While Chipotle said comparable sales swung 14.7% higher last month, it also forecast a fifth straight quarterly decline in same-store sales in the three-month period ended Dec. 31. Additionally, CMG said its fourth-quarter results will miss expectations. Nevertheless, CMG stock is up 3.8% at $410.21. And though today's upside is being contained by a stern layer of technical resistance, call volume has spiked in early trading.

By the numbers, 11,461 calls have traded on CMG so far, or five times what's typically seen at this point in the day. Puts are also crossing at a faster-than-usual clip, with 8,144 contracts on the tape -- four times the average intraday rate. Among the most active is CMG's weekly 1/13 427.50-strike call, where it appears new positions are being purchased. In other words, speculators are betting that CMG will settle north of $427.50 at this Friday's close, when the weekly series expires.

Today's call-skewed session is just more of the same in CMG's options pits, though. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculative players have bought to open 12,304 calls in the past 10 trading days, compared to 9,562 puts. What's more, the resultant call/put volume ratio of 1.26 ranks in the 72nd annual percentile, meaning calls have been bought to open over puts at an accelerated clip.

Considering more than 19% of CMG's float is sold short, it's possible some of the recent call buying is a result of short sellers hedging their bearish bets against any upside risk. In fact, the stock's weekly 1/13 400-strike call has seen the biggest rise in open interest over the past two weeks -- and data from the major options exchanges confirms buy-to-open activity when the stock was trading south of $400.

Regardless, now appears to be an opportune time to purchase premium on CMG's near-term options. Specifically, the stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 32% ranks in the 24th percentile of its annual range. In other words, low volatility expectations are currently priced into CMG's short-term options.

Looking at the charts, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG) has put in a dismal showing over the long term, with the shares off more than 24% since hitting an annual high at $542.50 in early March. What's more, today's rally is running out of steam near CMG's 200-day moving average -- which roughly coincides with the stock's year-over-year breakeven mark. In fact, the stock hasn't settled a session north of this descending trendline since mid-October 2015.

cmg daily since january 2016

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