Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU) Put Options Explode on EPA Death Blow

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCAU) is reportedly being targeted by the EPA for excessive diesel emissions

Jan 12, 2017 at 11:33 AM
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It's been a whipsaw session for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE:FCAU), which jumped to a record high of $11.32 earlier, but was last seen 13.3% lower at $9.62. Initially boosting the shares were upbeat remarks from the automaker's CEO, but they have since spiraled lower on a report that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accused FCAU of using software that masked excess diesel emissions. As such, the stock is potentially staring at its biggest single-day percentage drop in five years and the end of a nine-session winning streak, while demand for its put options is exploding.

By the numbers, FCAU puts are trading at 94 times the expected intraday rate, and have already hit an annual high. Most active is the January 2017 10-strike put, with roughly 21,000 contracts on the tape. According to Trade-Alert, speculators have been buying to open the now in-the-money option, anticipating extended losses through front-month expiration at next Friday's close. This makes sense for traders seeking an alternative method for betting bearishly, as FCAU is on the short-sale restricted list.

This also marks a dramatic reversal to what we've seen lately at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Specifically, during the past 10 days, traders have bought to open nearly 12 FCAU calls for every put. The resultant call/put volume ratio of 11.87 ranks in the bullishly skewed 85th annual percentile. Suffice it to say, these optimistic options players may now be on the ropes.

In addition, it looks like a number of short sellers missed a big opportunity. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (NYSE:FCAU) saw the third largest decrease in short interest during the most recent reporting period, with the bearish positions plummeting 62.5%.

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