Options Bears Target Middling AT&T Stock

Today's trading, however, leans bullish

Lillian Currens
Aug 24, 2020 at 12:25 PM
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Thanks to data courtesy of Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, we have a list below comprised of 20 stocks that have attracted the highest weekly options volume over the last 10 trading days, with new additions highlighted in yellow. Mobile provider AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) has regularly popped up on the list, and this time it's because options bears have their eyes trained on the recently static stock. 

In the last 10 days, 230,644 calls have exchanged hands, almost double the 115,407 calls exchanged during the same time period. Most popular during this time was the monthly September 29 put, followed by the weekly 9/4 29-strike put. Between these two positions, 114,947 contracts were exchanged. 

Most Actve Options Aug 24

Today's trading tells a different story, however. At last check, 45,000 calls have crossed the tape, compared to 18,000 puts. The weekly 8/28 30-strike call is getting the most attention, with 12,787 contracts exchanged so far. 

Meanwhile, the brokerage bunch is approaching the cellphone concern with caution. Just six call it a "buy" or better, while 10 say "hold," and one carries a "strong sell" rating. The consensus 12-month price target of $32.46 is an 8.4% premium to current levels.

This bearish sentiment isn't all that surprising. The shares of AT&T have been narrowly contained by their $29 and $30.50 levels for the better part of July and August, with additional pressure at the overhead 50-day moving average. Plus, the stock suffers a year-to-date deficit of 23.4%. Today, T is up 0.9% to trade at $29.94. 

T Chart August 24

For those wanting to get in on AT&T's next move, options could be the way to go. The equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 17% stands higher than just 3% of readings from the past 12 months. This suggests options players have been pricing in extremely low volatility expectations for the time being. 


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