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Jared Woodard: GIS -- Rich Volatility

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One stock that held up well on Wednesday and during the last few weeks is General Mills (GIS). The cerealist rallied 1.3% on the day and the stock is now less than 1% from its 52-week high. Consumer staples have acted well as investors reprice risk - peers like H.J. Heinz (HNZ) and Kellogg (K) are also not far from making new highs.

Option volume in GIS on Wednesday was 14% above normal, but it was not aggressive call-buying. Instead, investors were actually net sellers of option premium with a slightly negative delta bias. Most of the call volume was focused in the November 40 strike, which had a closing bid of $0.10. Investors who own shares and sold the 40 calls will make a quick 0.25% gain on their holdings if GIS doesn't rally above that level by Friday.

Given the possibility that a weak overall market could persist into the end of the month or longer, we like selling a put spread on GIS for December expiration. One month implied volatility, at almost 14% annualized, is well off its lows for the year, and will look rich in retrospect if the stock remains strong.

Trades: Buy to open 1 GIS December 37 put for $0.11 and sell to open 1 GIS December 39 put at $0.37.

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At the time of publication, Jared Woodard held no positions in the stocks or issues mentioned.


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