Options Traders Take Sides on Apple, Amazon

Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) are among the 20 stocks with the most active options

Feb 6, 2017 at 12:53 PM
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The 20 stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total options volume during the past 10 trading days. Stocks highlighted are new to the list since the last time the study was run, and data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Two names of notable interest are Dow component Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and e-tail giant Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Here's a quick look at how options traders have been approaching AAPL and AMZN shares.

most active options amzn aapl

Apple Traders Bet On Higher Highs

AAPL is among the 97 tech companies that filed a legal brief against U.S. President Donald Trump's immigration order, and the shares are up 0.9% at $130.23, and within a chip-shot of a last week's annual high of $130.49, as AAPL extends its 38% year-over-year lead. After delivering an earnings win last week, AAPL shares now sport a 14-Day Relative Strength Index (RSI) of 85 -- well in "overbought" territory, suggesting a short-term breather could be in the cards.

Digging right in, AAPL's March 125 call has seen the largest surge in open interest in the past two weeks, with notable buy-to-open activity taking place in late January. Today, AAPL calls are running at 1.7 times their usual intraday volume. The weekly 2/10 130-strike call is the most active in AAPL's option pits, with possible buy-to-open activity detected, according to Trade-Alert. However, even with AAPL's unusually high call volume, AAPL's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.82 is just 2 percentage points from an annual peak, indicating near-term AAPL option players are more put-skewed than usual relative to the past 12 months.

In light of the typical post-earnings volatility implosion, near-term Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) option players are getting quite the bargain, with AAPL's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 14% sitting lower than 99% of all other readings from the last 12 months, indicating AAPL options are pricing in unusually low volatility expectations for the stock. Meanwhile, AAPL's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) of 91 indicates the stock has tended to exceed volatility expectations over the last year.

Bearish Option Trader Opens Amazon Put Spread

Meanwhile, AMZN shares are down 0.4% at $806.73, extending Friday's earnings slide. Shareholders are seemingly shrugging off renewed reports of a futuristic grocery store in the works, which Amazon.com, Inc. officials denied. While AMZN still boasts a year-over-year lead of 60.5%, the stock is on pace to end beneath its 20-day moving average for the second straight day.

In the option pits, near-term traders have been unusually put-biased, with AMZN's SOIR of 1.20 sitting in the 87th percentile of its annual range. Excluding now-expired options, the weekly 2/10 780-strike put saw the largest open interest change over the past two weeks, with 2,004 contracts added. "Vanilla" buyers of these options are betting on a slide below the $780 level by the time the options expire on Friday.

Drilling down, puts are outpacing calls in AMZN's option pits today, with approximately 37,000 puts crossing the line, compared to 33,000 calls. According to data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), it looks like a possible bear put spread has been initiated at the weekly 2/10 790- and 800-strike puts, for an initial premium of $2.85 per spread. This bearish trader is betting AMZN will drop below $797.15 ($800 strike price - $2.85 initial premium paid) before expiration on Friday, though gains would be limited on a drop south of $790, due to the sold puts. 

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