Options Traders Pound Plummeting TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (AMTD)

AMTD options are trading at nine times the expected intraday rate

Feb 2, 2017 at 2:41 PM
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TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NASDAQ:AMTD) is feeling the heat, after rival broker Charles Schwab Corp (NYSE:SCHW) decided to cut trade commissions. AMTD shares are down nearly 11% at $41.12 -- on track for their largest one-day percentage loss since December 2008 -- and on the short-sale restricted list. Meanwhile, traders seeking an alternative path for betting bearishly are honing in on the stock's put options.

At last check, AMTD options are crossing at nine times the expected pace for this point in the afternoon -- with 20,000 contracts traded, a new annual high. Part of what's driving put volume, in particular, is the potential bearish roll-down of a 1,670-contract position from the February 44 strike to the 42 strike. If this is the case, the speculator anticipates the brokerage stock will extend its losses through the close on Friday, Feb. 17, when front-month options expire.

The accelerated demand for puts is remarkable, considering the options activity that's taken place in recent weeks. Specifically, AMTD's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio stands at a brow-raising 88.82, with 5,418 calls bought to open versus just 61 puts. What's more, this ratio ranks in the extreme 98th percentile of its annual range. Diving deeper, the majority of the action has centered at AMTD's May 46 call.

Irrespective of whether buyers are targeting calls or puts, the fact is that short-term options are attractively priced at the moment. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 22% registers below 95% of all readings from the past year, suggesting muted near-term volatility expectations. Not to mention, AMTD's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) of 99 indicates the options market has tended to underprice the stock's ability to make outsized moves in the past year.

As explained previously, TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. (NASDAQ:AMTD) shares are in a world of hurt. Not only have they wiped out nearly two months' worth of gains, they're also set to settle the week below the 10-week moving average for just the third time since mid-July. At the same time, it's possible the stock has found a foothold at its rising 80-day moving average, which coincides with the 50% retracement of AMTD's post-election rally.

td ameritrade stock chart with 80 day trendline fibonacci

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