Options Bears Target Moderna Stock Ahead of Earnings Report

Puts are running at double the intraday average this afternoon

Digital Content Manager
Feb 23, 2022 at 1:15 PM
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The shares of Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) are down 4.7% at $138.18 this afternoon, as investors gear up for the vaccine company's fourth-quarter earnings report, due out before the open tomorrow, Feb.  24. Separately, the drugmaker announced it just inked a 15-year expanded agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine and other experimental treatments. 

Moderna stock is eyeing its lowest close since April, as it carves out a channel of lower lows since an Aug. 10 record high up at $497.49. The equity has been caving to pressure at its descending 20-day moving average in recent months, and is down a 45% already in 2022. 

The stock has seen a number of wild post-earnings swings, including a 17.9% drop after its November report, and a 22.7% pop all the way back in February of 2020. The stock has seen positive returns after half of its last eight earnings reports, averaging an 8.2% move, regardless of direction. This time around, options players are pricing in a 17.7% next-day swing. 

Bearish options traders are targeting the sinking stock in droves this afternoon. So far, 64,000 calls have crossed the tape, which is double the intraday average, compared to 36,000 calls. The most popular position is the weekly 2/25 100-strike put, followed by the 130-strike put in the same series, with positions being opened at the latter. 

This penchant for puts has been the norm. In fact, at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.98 stands higher than all other readings from the past year. 

Lastly, the security's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) stands at an elevated 98 out of 100. This indicates MRNA has exceeded option traders' volatility expectations during the past year -- a boon for options buyers.


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