Options Traders Target New Lows for Chipotle Mexican Grill Stock

Reviews for Chipotle's queso dip weighed on the restaurant stock on Monday

Karee Venema
Sep 19, 2017 at 10:14 AM
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Options traders have been ramping up their bearish exposure on Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. (NYSE:CMG), as the stock trades near multi-year lows. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), CMG's 10-day put/call volume ratio has risen to 0.90 from 0.76 since the start of the month, and now ranks in the elevated 76th annual percentile, meaning puts have been bought to open relative to calls at a faster-than-usual clip.

Drilling down, the stock's October 270 put has seen the biggest rise in open interest over this time frame, with 3,100 contracts added. This strike is now home to peak front-month open interest of 3,592 contracts, and data from the major options exchanges confirms notable buy-to-open activity here. In other words, options traders expect CMG to breach $270 by expiration at the close on Friday, Oct. 20 -- a level the stock hasn't traded south of since January 2013.

At last check, CMG shares were trading down 1.5% at $297.25, extending Monday's queso-related slip. Specifically, the stock shed 3.6%, as negative reviews for its new cheese dip hit social media.

Yesterday's dismal price action isn't anything new for the restaurant stock, though. Since topping out at an annual high of $499 on May 16, Chipotle shares have plunged 40% -- hitting a four-year low of $296.20 on Aug. 23. 

While part of this downside has come as a result of fresh foodborne illness concerns, a steady stream of selling pressure from shorts has likely been a contributor, too. Short interest on CMG is up more than 42% since early July to 4.80 million shares. Going forward, Chipotle stock could continue to struggle, should bears both in and out of the options pits continue to pile on.

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