ARG – Airgas, Inc. – Shares of the distributor of industrial, medical and specialty gases fell as much as 1.6% in early morning trading to touch an intraday low of $63.55 on news proxy advisory firms recommended that Airgas shareholders vote against Air Products & Chemical Inc.’s attempt to oust the majority of the ARG board. Airgas shares recovered significantly by 11:20 am ET to stand 0.50% lower on the day at $64.28. Yesterday, Air Products upped its offer to buyout Airgas to $5.5 billion, but Airgas rejected the bid, stating the $65.50 offer undervalues the company. Bearish positioning in ARG options took place in the first half of the session. Perhaps some traders are bracing for shares to falter again while the months-long hostile takeover story continues to unfold. One pessimistic player initiated a debit put spread, buying 4,000 puts at the October $62.5 strike for premium of $3.10 each, and selling the same number of puts at the lower October $55 strike at a premium of $1.10 apiece. The net cost of the transaction amounts to $2.00 per contract. Thus, the investor makes money if ARG’s shares fall 5.9% from the current price of $64.28 to breach the effective breakeven point on the spread at $60.50 by October expiration day. Maximum potential profits of $5.50 per contract are available to the trader should the gas maker’s shares plunge 14.4% to slip beneath $55.00 ahead of expiration. The investor responsible for the transaction could be utilizing the spread to protect the value of a long position in ARG shares. Options implied volatility on the stock earlier jumped 12.3% to an approximate intraday high of 41.41%.
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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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