PFE – Pfizer Inc. – Options strategists initiated diverse transactions on the global pharmaceutical company today with shares of the underlying stock slipping 0.75% lower to arrive at $14.12 in afternoon trading. One investor expecting Pfizer’s shares to remain range-bound through August expiration sold a straddle, while a pessimistic trader enacted a ratio put spread in the January 2011 contract. The short straddle took place at the August $15 strike where approximately 10,000 calls were sold for an average premium of $0.27 apiece, in conjunction with the sale of about 10,000 in-the-money puts for an average premium of $1.28 each. The straddle-seller pockets a gross premium of $1.55 per contract on the transaction, keeping the full amount of premium received if Pfizer’s shares settle at $15.00 at expiration. Shares must rally 6.2% in the next couple of months to reach $15.00 by expiration day in August. The short stance taken in both call and put options expose the responsible party to potentially devastating losses in the event that shares swing dramatically in either direction away from the $15.00 strike price. Losses accumulate for the straddler if PFE’s shares rally above the upper breakeven price of $16.55, or should shares slip beneath the lower breakeven point at $13.45 ahead of expiration. In longer-dated January 2010 options, a bearish trader wary of continued erosion in the price of Pfizer’s shares established a ratio put spread. The investor purchased 10,000 puts at the August $14 strike for a premium of $1.47 each, and sold 20,000 puts at the lower August $11 strike for a premium of $0.49 a-pop. Net premium paid for the transaction amounts to $0.49 per contract. The trader is poised to profit if shares of the pharmaceutical company decline 4.3% from the current price of $14.12 to breach the effective breakeven point on the spread at $13.51 by January 2011 expiration day. Maximum available profits of $2.51 per contract pad the investor’s wallet if Pfizer’s shares plummet 22.00% to settle at $11.00 at expiration.
Affiliation: Interactive Brokers
Andrew Wilkinson is the senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers Group, where he provides daily commentary and analysis on U.S. equity options trading throughout the trading day. Andrew provides webinars designed to explain option-related trading scenarios covering futures, fixed income, forex and equities.
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