Northrop Grumman Options Traders Won Big After Stock Surge

An appealing technical and sentiment setup had us suggesting options traders buy Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) calls in late January

Karee Venema
Mar 9, 2017 at 12:36 PM
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Subscribers to Schaeffer's Weekend Trader Series service banked a 100% profit recently, after we recommended options traders buy the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) May 220 calls. Here's a quick recap of why NOC shares initially flashed on our screen, and how the bullish recommendation went on to reach its target profit in just a few short weeks.

We initially recommended the NOC calls to our subscribers in late January. Whether looking at a daily, weekly, or monthly chart, the stock has been in a tight trend, implying strong direction with little volatility. Plus, at the time of our recommendation, NOC was pulling back to its 160-day moving average after topping out at a record high in late November. Per our internal quantified data, this trendline has historical bullish implications, with NOC positive 80% of the time 21 days after previous tests, boasting an average return of 4.2%. Additionally, the late-January pullback brought the stock near $229.89, which is triple its 2007 peak and coincides with the 160-day moving average.

Additionally, we targeted NOC at a good entry point, given the stock's relatively muted reaction to downwardly revised guidance following its Jan. 26 fourth-quarter earnings report. In our view, these lowered expectations served as a bullish catalyst for the shares going forward.

This skepticism was echoed across Wall Street, too. Despite the equity's impressive technical performance, only nine of 20 brokerages maintained a "buy" rating, while the average 12-month price target was $259. Plus, NOC's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 2.27 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) docked near a 52-week peak. Likewise, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) was perched in the 85th percentile of its annual range, pointing to an extreme put-bias among short-term traders.

After the trade recommendation hit subscribers' inbox on Sunday, Jan. 29, shares of Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) went on to rally more than 8% by Monday, Feb. 27. In addition to the appealing technical and sentiment backdrop NOC presented, defense stocks got a big boost last month when President Donald Trump unveiled plans to increase the Pentagon budget by $54 billion -- which helped our call option reach its 100% target profit in roughly one month's time.

NOC stock daily chart

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