Comcast Options Traders Target New Highs By April

Options traders have bought to open calls on Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) at a near-annual-high clip in recent weeks

Mar 3, 2017 at 3:25 PM
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Snapchat parent Snap Inc. (NYSE:SNAP) surged 44% in its first day of trading  yesterday, and is up another 10% today. Amid all the hype surrounding SNAP was a memo released by NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke, which unveiled a $500 million "strategic investment" in Snap, making the Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) division the only domestic media company to own a stake in the digital platform. At last check, CMCSA stock is down 0.5% at $37.26. Nevertheless, some options traders are holding out hope for a quick rebound -- echoing the bullish sentiment seen in recent weeks.

Specifically, buy-to-open activity has been detected at Comcast's weekly 3/3 37.50-strike call, the stock's most active option. Regardless of where the stock settles the session, the most the call buyers stand to lose is the initial premium paid.

More broadly, though, options traders have taken the bullish route toward CMCSA 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 11,344 calls over the past 10 trading sessions, compared to 2,925 puts. What's more, the resultant call/put volume ratio of 3.88 is ranked above 89% of all comparable readings taken in the past year, meaning the rate at which these calls have been bought to open over puts is at a near-annual-high clip.

Echoing this is the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.45, in the 6th percentile of its annual range. Simply stated, short-term traders have rarely been as call-skewed toward CMCSA as they are now. In fact, total options open interest in CMCSA is at an annual high, with about 1.1 million calls and 624,000 puts outstanding.

Drilling down, peak open interest is located the April 38.75 call, with 123,847 contracts in residence. Further, more than 88,000 of those calls were added in the past two weeks. For those that bought the calls to open, the goal is for CMCSA shares to break out above $38.75 by back-month options expiration at the close on Friday, April 21 -- never-before-seen territory.

The optimism toward CMCSA isn't confined to the options pits, either. All but one of the 20 analysts covering CMCSA maintain a "buy" or better rating, without a single "sell" on the books. Plus, short interest fell 13% in the most recent reporting period, and now accounts for just 1.3% of the stock's available float.

Looking at the charts, it's not hard to see why sentiment is stacked so bullishly toward CMCSA shares. The stock is up 24.5% year-over-year -- and 8% in 2017 alone. Plus, the stock hit a record peak of $38.44 on Jan. 26, following Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) well-received turn in the earnings confessional.

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