Freeport-McMoRan Stock Call Options Hot as Copper Prices Surge

Options traders have been decidedly bullish on FCX stock

Managing Editor
Aug 22, 2017 at 2:54 PM
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Mining stock Freeport-McMoRan Inc (NYSE:FCX) has been on a tear lately, up more than 36% since skimming the $11.10 region, a key layer of technical support, in late June. The rally has coincided with rising copper prices, which are at their highest point since November 2014. Today, FCX stock is up 2.7% to trade at $15.12 -- bringing its week-to-date gain to 6.9% -- after Indonesia's energy minister, Ignasius Jonan, said negotiations over the copper mine should be reached by month's end. the company gained imited access to its Grasberg mine yesterday. As such, call options continue to be popular on FCX.

At last check, 46,643 calls had changed hands on FCX, 1.3 times what's typically seen and volume pacing in the 85th annual percentile. Buy-to-open activity is likely occurring at the weekly 8/25 15-strike and September 15 calls -- the latter of which is already home to peak front-month open interest of 34,968 contracts. If this is the case, the goal is for the mining stock to extend its run above $15 over the next several weeks.

This extreme rate of call buying is nothing new, though. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), options traders have bought to open 51,840 calls in the past two weeks, compared to 9,706 puts. Plus, the resultant 10-day call/put volume ratio of 5.34 ranks in the 100th annual percentile.

The good news for premium buyers is that FCX options appear to be attractively priced at the moment. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 38% ranks higher than just 11% of all other readings from the past year, implying relatively low volatility expectations are being priced into near-term options. Additionally, FCX's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) sits at an impressive 91, meaning Freeport-McMoRan stock has tended to exceed option traders' volatility expectations during the past year.

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