Options Traders Could Be Placing Losing Bets on Avis Budget Stock

TTWO shares are up big in May

May 14, 2018 at 1:59 PM
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The 20 S&P MidCap 400 Index (MID) stocks listed in the table below have attracted the highest total options volume during the past 10 trading days. Stocks highlighted in yellow are new entries to the list. Data is courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Two names we want to take a closer look at today are car rental stock Avis Budget Group Inc. (NASDAQ:CAR) and "NBA 2K" maker Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (NASDAQ:TTWO).

midcap options volume

May, August Puts Popular on CAR Stock

Put volume has dwarfed call volume during the past two weeks on CAR, and a large bulk of this activity took place at the front-month May 45 put. Traders bought to open contracts here, according to data from the major options exchanges, betting on the shares holding below $45 through the end of this week. But the longer-term and deeper out-of-the-money August 37 put saw an even bigger increase in open interest over the previous 10 days, with data pointing to potential buying activity here, as well.

If history is any indicator, though, these bears may have entered losing bets. Avis Budget Group recently pulled back to the 200-day moving average for the first time in months, and data from Rocky White shows that the stock averaged a 21-day return of 10.8% following the three previous pullbacks to this trendline. The security was last seen trading down slightly at $43.38, meaning a similar rally this time around would put it back above the $48 mark.

Volatility Expectations High Ahead of Take-Two Earnings

We recently discussed the extremely bullish options trading surrounding Take-Two, and these bulls have been rewarded with strong price action. The shares are up more than 15% in May alone, and were last quoted at $114.78. In fact, the equity may have risen too far, too fast, considering its 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) was at 73 at Friday's close, in overbought territory.

Or it could just be that traders are taking a wait-and-see approach ahead of the company's earnings release this Wednesday, May 16, scheduled for after the market closes. Looking back, the stock fell almost 12% the day after the last earnings release in February -- but that was actually the only time in the past two years the shares traded lower after earnings. Following the May release last year, TTWO rose 5.5% the ensuing session.

A number of traders are clearly bullish, as heavy buying activity at the out-of-the-money June 120 call over the past 10 days has made it home of peak open interest on the video game concern. Sentiment aside, the options market is certainly expecting post-earnings volatility, with implied volatility (IV) data pricing in an 11.3% swing for Thursday's session.

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