HRB – H&R Block, Inc. – The biggest U.S. tax preparer’s shares plunged 13.2% in early trading to touch down at an intraday and new 52-week low of $13.44 after the firm’s president and CEO, Russ Smyth, quit. Shares are currently down a lesser 7.15% on the day to stand at $14.38 as of 11:25 am (ET). News of Smyth’s departure after nearly two years as HRB’s CEO inspired a jump in options activity on the stock and sent HRB’s overall reading of options implied volatility soaring 19.6% to 39.27% by 11:30 am (ET). Contrarian investors looking for shares of the underlying stock to rebound somewhat by January 2011 expiration dominated trading in HRB options in the first half of the session. Bullish players picked up 1,600 calls at the January 2011 $15 strike for an average premium of $1.14 apiece. Investors long the calls make money if, by expiration, H&R Block’s shares rally 12.2% over the current price of $14.38 to trade above the average breakeven point on the calls at $16.14. Optimists anticipating a more robust upward move in shares purchased 1,700 calls at the higher January 2011 $19 strike for an average premium of $0.29 each. Traders long these contracts profit if HRB shares surge 34.1% to trade above the average breakeven price of $19.29 by expiration day. Finally, bullish traders coveted at least 4,800 call options at the higher January 2011 $20 strike for an average premium of $0.22 per contract. Call buyers at this strike price start to accumulate profits if H&R Block’s shares jump 40.6% from the current price of $14.38 to surpass the average breakeven price of $20.22 ahead of January 2011 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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