RIG – Transocean, Ltd. – Shares of the provider of offshore contract drilling services are up 6.75% to stand at $53.79 with 20 minutes remaining before the closing bell. Transocean is scheduled to reveal its performance for the second quarter of 2010 after the market closes today. Impending earnings inspired a flurry of options activity on the stock in afternoon trading. Investors are making good use of RIG’s weekly options pre-earnings, placing both bullish and bearish bets by exchanging calls and puts. Optimists hoping to see Transocean shares extend gains through weekly-expiration on Friday purchased roughly 3,200 calls at the August $55 strike for an average premium of $0.74 each. Buying interest spread to the higher August $60 strike where approximately 1,000 calls were coveted at an average premium of $0.08 apiece. A strong earnings report and continued rally in RIG’s shares will benefit traders making bullish wagers today. On the flip side, some investors are hedging possible disappointing earnings and subsequent share price erosion. Put players picked up roughly 2,500 puts at the August $52.5 strike for an average premium of $0.96 each. These contracts, which expire on Friday, yield profits – or downside protection – to investors should Transocean’s shares decline 4.2% from the current price of $53.79 to breach the average breakeven point on the downside at $51.54 by expiration. Calls expiring on August 20 were also heavily traded ahead of earnings. Trading traffic is heaviest at the August $55 strike where more than 11,500 contracts changed hands by 3:50 pm ET. Overall, options players exchanged roughly 1.65 calls for each single put traded on the stock today.
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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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