Why GameStop Stock Options Popped Recently

Options traders bombarded GameStop stock after its pullback from annual highs

Deputy Editor
May 2, 2022 at 12:49 PM
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A mid-March earnings report saw meme stock GameStop Corp. (NYSE:GME) fly up the charts, with the stock nabbing an annual high of $199.41 by March 29. In the subsequent month, GME has managed to cool off to around 20% below it's year-to-date breakeven level. Last seen down 5.3% to trade at $118.30, the equity is on track to log its fifth-straight close below its 50-day moving average.   

GME Chart May 2

The recent downward movement from GME has stirred up quite the frenzy in the options pits. The equity landed on Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White's list of S&P 400 (SP400) stocks that have attracted the highest weekly options volume within the past two weeks. In the past 10 days, 363,727 calls and 228,018 puts were exchanged, putting GME second on White's list. The most popular during this time period was the weekly 4/29 2,500-strike put, followed by the 2,400-strike put in the same series. 

MAO Chart May 5

While calls outpaced puts on an absolute basis in the last two weeks, there's a clear put-biased amongst short-term options traders. This is per GME's 10-day put/call volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) that stands in the slightly elevated 71st percentile of its annual range, implying a preference for puts recently.

For those wanting to join these options traders, now could be the ideal time. GameStop's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 97% sits in the 18th percentile of its annual range, meaning options traders are pricing in extremely low volatility expectations for the time being.

As is the case with most meme stocks, short sellers remain firmly in control. Short interest increased 15.3% in the last reporting period, and the 14.13 million shares sold short make up 22% of the stock's available float, or over three day's worth of pent-up buying power. 


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