Monday’s Notable Options Activity: $FRO, $LVS, $NUAN, $XHB, $XOP, $RIG, $ZNGA

by Dan January 13, 2015 8:31 am • Commentary

Here is some untied, generally directional options activity that caught my eye during Monday’s trading:

1. XOP – The S&P Oil & Gas etf had one of its worst days in years, closing down nearly 5%, closing in on last months 52 week and multi year lows.  When the etf was 43.26 a trader sold 8,000 feb 44 puts at 3.37 to close and bought 8,000 feb 42 puts for 2.55 to open, with 11,400 trading on the day, making it the most active strike on the day.  Total options volume ran 1.5x average daily.

2. RIG – stock made new 52 week and 20 year lows, closing down 3.6% on the day.  Total options volume ran more than 2x average daily, with puts making up 80% of the volume. When the stock was 15.52 a trader paid 37 cents for 18,000 Jan 15 puts, marked closing, 44,500 ended up trading on the day.

3. LVS – There was a long dated call buyer when the stock was $54.80, with a trader paying 3.25 for 15,000 Jan2016 62.50 calls to open.  Shares of LVS have been hit hard with continued economic weakness in China and what has been in apparent downtrend in high roller gambling in Macau. The stock is down 35% from the 52 week highs made early last year, but interestingly just now below the uptrend that had been in place from the 2009 lows that saw the stock rise more than 6000% from the lows:

LVS 8 year chart from Bloomberg
LVS 7 year chart from Bloomberg

4. FRO – the oil tanker company’s shares are up 85% in 2015, and up 300% from early December.  When the stock was $4.50 there appeared to be a long holder rolling an overwrite, buying back 18,500 Jan 2 calls for 2.50 to close and selling 18,500 Feb 5 calls at .45 to open.

5. ZNGA – options volume ran 3x average daily with the buy of a risk reversal incorporating more than half of the total volume.  When the stock was 2,57, a trader paid .54 for 10,000 Jan16 3 calls and sold 10,000 Jan16 2.5 puts at .52,this trade was marked closing, and there is about 32,000 open interest in each line. This could have been closing a collar against 1 million shares of long stock.

6. NUAN – yesterday in this space I highlighted a decent size put purchase that looked to be a hedge against a long position:

NUAN – total options volume ran 6x avg daily volume, with more than half the volume coming in one trade. When the stock was $13.65 (also a new 52 week low) a trader paid .35 for 20,000 Feb 13 puts to open. These puts are likely dollar cheap protection for a long, or a fairly reasonable vol purchase into the company’s fiscal Q1 results that should fall in Feb expiration. Implied vol should rise into the mid to high 40s prior to results.

Today options volume ran almost 3x average daily with short dated calls active. The most active strike was 7300 of the Feb 15 calls, most bought to open.  There was a rumor on the Twitters suggesting that Baidu was interested in buying them, but the stock only rallied about 2.5% on the rumor.

7. XHB – the homebuilding etf made a new 52 week and 7 year high today.  When the etf was $35.11 a trader rolled a bullish view up selling 8500 March 34 calls at 1.86 to close and bought 8500 March 36 calls for .83 to open.