Expedia Puts Pop After United Pulls Fares

United Continental will pull its fares from Expedia later this year

by Patrick Martin

Published on Apr 17, 2019 at 2:31 PM

The shares of Expedia Group Inc (NASDAQ:EXPE) are down 1.3% to trade at $124.50 today, after United Continental (UAL) announced it will pull its fares from the site later this year. Expedia and United have been battling in the courtroom, with a federal judge earlier this month rejecting the former's request for an injunction that would have required the latter to keep providing data for flights after Sept. 30 (when their contract expires). Against this backdrop, EXPE put options are trading at twice the normal pace.

More specifically, more than 7,000 EXPE put options have changed hands today -- double the expected intraday amount, and volume pacing for the 96th percentile of its annual range. There's notable activity at the July 120 and 115 puts, where spread activity is detected. It appears one trader bought to open 528 of the 115-strike puts for $3.30 each, while simultaneously selling to open 528 of the July 120 puts for $4.90 apiece. 

If the trader did initiate the spread, he or she is actually betting on support for EXPE. The investor can pocket the entire $1.60 premium (credit for sold option minus debit for bought option), should the stock remain north of $120 -- the sold put strike -- through July options expiration.

Whatever the motive, Expedia Group is no stranger to put traders. Short-term speculators have rarely been more put-skewed than they are now, per EXPE's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.44, which ranks in the 90th annual percentile. 

On the charts, Expedia stock initially traded as high as $127.06 today, before turning lower. Year-to-date, EXPE is still up 10.4%. 

Daily Stock Chart EXPE


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