Mastercard Stock Notches Fresh Highs on China Bank Approval

The news has options bulls are taking notice

by Lillian Currens

Published on Feb 11, 2020 at 1:06 PM

Payments specialist Mastercard Inc (NYSE:MA) is enjoying a lift midday, and notched a fresh record high of $335.15 earlier, following news that the People's Bank of China (PBOC) approved the company's Chinese joint venture (JV) to carry out bank card clearing operations in the region. This will give Mastercard to power to seek formal approval to carry out domestic bankcard and clearing activities by 2021. At last check, MA is up 0.6% to trade at $332.10. 

MA Feb 11

The news has bullish bets in the options pits running at a slightly quicker clip than usual, with 16,000 calls across the tape so far. A huge amount of this activity is taking place at the weekly 2/14 340-strike call, with some of these contracts being sold to open. This suggests some of these traders are calling the $340 as a ceiling for MA ahead of the contract's expiration date this Friday. 

This bullish sentiment isn't unusual, with 1.39 long calls bought for every put on the the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) in he last 10 days. Short-term options traders have taken a more optimistic stance, too. Currently, MA sports a Schaeffer's open interest ratio (SOIR) which sits in the low, 30th percentile of its annual range. 

Similarly, an overwhelming 24 members of the brokerage bunch consider Mastercard a "buy" or better, compared to just one who says "hold." Plus, the consensus 12-month target price sits all the way up at $359.44 -- a region not yet touched by MA. 

Considering this, options could be an attractive way to get in on Mastercard's next move. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 19% sits higher than just 23% of readings from the last 12 months. This means options are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations for the time being. 

 


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