Option Activity Alert: NVDA, GMCR, EEM, GLD

NVDA – Nvidia Corp. – It appears that Nvidia’s strategic change might be paying off after challenges to its core chipset business from AMD and Intel threatened to derail its fortunes. Earlier results showed profits beat expectations albeit by a penny but prompted the company to raise revenue forecasts in a sign of a revival in personal computer demand. The company’s revival involves new products in the market for chips that run add-in graphics to computers. The success is reviving investors’ appetite for the stock, which had earlier lost one-third of its value during 2010. On September 24, our market scanners picked up on a brace of bullish calendar call spreads on the stock using nearby January and March options against January 2012 call options. At the time there were also suggestions in the market that Oracle might be looking to acquire Nvidia. Following a near-8% pop in the stock today to $13.63 the investors appears to be taking a healthy profit on at least part of the trade by selling almost 20,000 January calls at the $14 strike and buying back a similar short position in the January 2012 calls at the $22.50 strike. The bullish positioning at the time cost this investor a mere 16 cents to enact and from what we can tell this morning the trade was closed at a healthy 81% gain.

GMCR – Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. – We’re not quite sure the reason behind a three-day slump in shares at operator of the fast-growing Keurig single-cup coffee brewer is, but shares have slumped by 11% to $31.05 on Friday. Perhaps investors are expecting demand destruction as a shortage of beans sends coffee futures above $2.00 per pound. However, perhaps growing threats to the niche market are causing investors to look elsewhere. Nestle and Sara Lee both managed to persuade WalMart to carry their pods recently in a move that could be destructive to the pace of earnings growth at Green Mountain. Options volume today has been building at next weekend’s expiring contract at the $27.50 strike where the majority of around 8,000 bearish put options have been written at a premium of about 20 cents per contract. We notice that open interest started to build to around this level albeit slowly during October and today’s volume could be an investor cutting out early grabbing what premium is left over. Still, perhaps one investor is of the opinion that a further near 13% slide between now and next Friday is an unlikely proposition and is happy to rake in an approximate premium of $160,000 just for kicks.

EEM – iShares Emerging Markets Index Fund – Chinese ambitions to raise interest rates took prime-time attention in the overnight session in Asia. A rapid pace of increase in the pace of domestic inflation to 4.4% announced yesterday has spooked investors into the belief that China will further curtail any notions of a bubble in its asset markets by restricting lending. Investors sold stocks around the world and lent heavily on the Shanghai market sending it down the most in 15 months. In New York the emerging markets ETF is weaker by 1.8% on Friday with one large and likely institutional investor finding the threat of lower prices very real. A previously established bearish play involving 95,000 soon-to-expire put options was rolled into the December contract. It’s likely that the investor is positioning to protect an underlying portfolio exposed to until recently bullish emerging markets. The trader paid a net 70 cents to roll his protection out by another month. The ETF has lost almost 4% since midweek.

GLD – SPDR Gold shares ETF – In response to the fears surrounding China investors swiftly bolted for the door dropping commodities behind them leaving buyers swamped with stale long positions. As the world’s leading destination for raw materials, the perception that China may act to cool demand undermined the recent bullish run. Gold prices were no exception despite the fact that perhaps gold’s recent rally has been in response to growing uncertainty over the health of the global recovery not to mention the plight of paper currencies including the dollar as the U.S. attempts to revive domestic demand. Arguably gold should be bolstered by today’s move rather than hindered by it. Nevertheless the gold ETF dipped 2.7% to trade at $133.90 to reflect a drop in the price of the yellow-metal. It appears that one investor disagrees with today’s move and positioned accordingly by selling in-the-money put options at the $138 strike in order to position long through call options at the same strike expiring in February. The more expensive premium on the put options ensures that the trader takes a net credit on this trade and would benefit if indeed gold continued its ascent to a record high. The trade today involved 4,100 options at each strike with the trader taking a net credit of $1.80 per contract.

About Larry M. Elkin 534 Articles

Affiliation: Palisades Hudson Financial Group

Larry M. Elkin, CPA, CFP®, has provided personal financial and tax counseling to a sophisticated client base since 1986. After six years with Arthur Andersen, where he was a senior manager for personal financial planning and family wealth planning, he founded his own firm in Hastings on Hudson, New York in 1992. That firm grew steadily and became the Palisades Hudson organization, which moved to Scarsdale, New York in 2002. The firm expanded to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2005, and to Atlanta, Georgia, in 2008.

Larry received his B.A. in journalism from the University of Montana in 1978, and his M.B.A. in accounting from New York University in 1986. Larry was a reporter and editor for The Associated Press from 1978 to 1986. He covered government, business and legal affairs for the wire service, with assignments in Helena, Montana; Albany, New York; Washington, D.C.; and New York City’s federal courts in Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Larry established the organization’s investment advisory business, which now manages more than $800 million, in 1997. As president of Palisades Hudson, Larry maintains individual professional relationships with many of the firm’s clients, who reside in more than 25 states from Maine to California as well as in several foreign countries. He is the author of Financial Self-Defense for Unmarried Couples (Currency Doubleday, 1995), which was the first comprehensive financial planning guide for unmarried couples. He also is the editor and publisher of Sentinel, a quarterly newsletter on personal financial planning.

Larry has written many Sentinel articles, including several that anticipated future events. In “The Economic Case Against Tobacco Stocks” (February 1995), he forecast that litigation losses would eventually undermine cigarette manufacturers’ financial position. He concluded in “Is This the Beginning Of The End?” (May 1998) that there was a better-than-even chance that estate taxes would be repealed by 2010, three years before Congress enacted legislation to repeal the tax in 2010. In “IRS Takes A Shot At Split-Dollar Life” (June 1996), Larry predicted that the IRS would be able to treat split dollar arrangements as below-market loans, which came to pass with new rules issued by the Service in 2001 and 2002.

More recently, Larry has addressed the causes and consequences of the “Panic of 2008″ in his Sentinel articles. In “Have We Learned Our Lending Lesson At Last” (October 2007) and “Mortgage Lending Lessons Remain Unlearned” (October 2008), Larry questioned whether or not America has learned any lessons from the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s. In addition, he offered some practical changes that should have been made to amend the situation. In “Take Advantage Of The Panic Of 2008” (January 2009), Larry offered ways to capitalize on the wealth of opportunity that the panic presented.

Larry served as president of the Estate Planning Council of New York City, Inc., in 2005-2006. In 2009 the Council presented Larry with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award, citing his service to the organization and “his tireless efforts in promoting our industry by word and by personal example as a consummate estate planning professional.” He is regularly interviewed by national and regional publications, and has made nearly 100 radio and television appearances.

Visit: Palisades Hudson

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