Option Activity Alert: LMT, KO, LNG, NUAN

LMT – Lockheed Martin Corp. – President Barack Obama’s proposal to cut $400 billion from the Pentagon’s budget through 2023 sent shares in Lockheed Martin lower this week, providing one contrarian options player the opportunity to pick up May contract call options at a steep discount this morning. Lockheed’s shares fell as much as 3.2% at the start of the session to touch an intraday low of $75.81, which marks a 6.7% total decline off Monday’s high of $81.22. Talks of reining-in defense spending pushed some options players to put options, but most of the volume in LMT options on Thursday is in out-of-the-money calls. More than 10,500 calls changed hands at the May $80 strike on paltry previously existing open interest of just 452 contracts. It looks like most of these calls were purchased by bullish players positioning for a rebound in the price of the underlying stock by May expiration. Investors may be picking up the calls in anticipation of a rally following Lockheed Martin’s first-quarter earnings report on April 26, 2011. Call buyers paid an average premium of $0.81 per contract for the options this morning. Premium on the calls was up around $2.60 each at the start of the week, and had a price tag of $1.70 a-pop on Wednesday. Plain-vanilla call buyers start making money if shares in Lockheed rise 3.9% over the current price of $77.79 to surpass the average breakeven point on the upside at $80.81 by expiration day next month. The overall reading of options implied volatility on LMT increased 14.1% to 23.53% by 11:55am.

KO – Coca-Cola Co. – The beverage manufacturer bubbled up on our scanners this morning after one strategist initiated a short strangle in long-dated Coke options. Shares in Coca-Cola Co. are outperforming the broader market this afternoon, trading as much as 1.15% higher to touch a multi-year high of $68.06 as of 12:00pm in New York. The strangle-strategist sold 3,500 puts at the January 2013 $65 strike for a premium of $6.35 each, and sold the same number of calls at the January 2013 $70 strike at a premium of $4.45 apiece. Selling the time-rich options at the closest to-the-money strike prices yields gross premium of $10.80 per contract to the trader. From an at-expiration view, the investor keeps the full amount of premium, roughly $3.78 million, if the price of the underlying settles within the boundaries of the strike prices described through expiration day in January 2013. The trader need not hold the position through expiration, however, and may be able to close out the position at an advantageous price. Subsiding levels of options implied volatility, as well as the passage of time, will lower premium required to buy back the strangle at some future date. The Atlanta, GA-based beverage giant reports first-quarter earnings ahead of the opening bell on April 26, 2011.

LNG – Cheniere Energy, Inc. – Large prints in deep out-of-the-money call options on Cheniere Energy caught our eye this morning. Shares in the Houston-based natural gas company are currently trading 0.50% lower on the session at $7.76 as of 12:55pm. It looks like one investor purchased 20,000 call options outright at the September $12 strike for an average premium of $0.82 apiece, on previously existing open interest of just 704 contracts. The options trader responsible for the transaction stands prepared to profit should shares in LNG soar 65.1% over the current price of $7.76 to surpass the average breakeven point at $12.82 by September expiration. Cheniere Energy’s shares have not exceeded $12.00 since April 2008. The company is slated to release earnings for the first quarter after the final bell on May 9, 2011.

NUAN – Nuance Communications, Inc. – Bullish players are picking up July contract call options on the software company today to position for the price of the software company’s shares to potentially hit a new 52-week high by expiration. Shares in Nuance Communications are currently down 0.75% to stand at $19.26 just after 12:40pm. Investors traded more than 4,700 calls at the July $21 strike on open interest of 1,138 contracts. It looks like roughly 4,000 of the calls were purchased for an average premium of $0.75 apiece. Investors long the calls profit in the event that Nuance’s shares surge 12.9% over the current price of $19.26 to surpass the average breakeven point at $21.75 by July expiration. Optimism spread to the higher July $22 strike where more than 2,100 call options changed hands on open interest of 275 contracts. The majority of the calls were purchased at an average premium of $0.58 each. Higher-strike call buyers start making money if NUAN’s shares jump 14.2% in the next few months to exceed the average breakeven price of $22.58 at expiration. Nuance Communications reports second-quarter earnings after the market closes on May 9, 2011.

About Andrew Wilkinson 1023 Articles

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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