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BPOP, CROX, HDY: Small Caps That Might Pop

A number of small capitalization stocks saw bullish options order flow and possible bottom-fishing yesterday. These stocks have suffered sizeable losses in 2011, but based on the activity in the options market Tuesday, some investors seem to expect a rebound early next year. The names are from a diverse set of industries and seem to be somewhat speculative plays. Still, they might be worth adding to your watch list, as some players seem to expect these three small cap stocks to pop in early-2012.

Hyperdynamics (HDY) shares were probing 52-week lows around $2 and were down nearly 60% year-to-date prior to Tuesday. Yet shares gained $0.17 to $2.21 yesterday and options volume on the Houston, TX oil and gas company was about 15,000 calls and 2,000 puts. Early options action on the stock included multi-exchange sweep of 1356 February 2 calls at the $0.75 asking price. At the end of the day, 5,943 had changed hands and open interest increased by 5,038, suggesting that some investors were taking positions in anticipation of additional gains for HDY through the February expiration. January 2, January 3, June 2 and June 3 calls on HDY saw increasing interest as well.


Popular (BPOP) was also rebounding off 52-week lows of $1.08 set Monday. Shares gained $0.10 to $1.22 yesterday and the top options trade on the Puerto Rican bank was a 5000-lot of February 1.5 calls, bought for an average of $0.075 to open, according to a source on the exchange floor. At the end of the day, 6,514 February 1.5 calls traded against zero in open interest. Open interest increased by 6,514, indicating that all of the volume was opening activity. BPOP has not escaped the volatility in the banking world and shares are down 62% year-to-date. Shares are down two pennies to $1.20 today and February 1.5 calls on the stock are 25% out-of-the-money and expire in 58 days. Tuesday's buyers seem to be anticipating a rebound in early-2012.

Finally, Crocs (CROX) was the subject of bullish trading. Prior to Tuesday, shares of the footwear-maker had suffered a 53.6% loss since July. The stock touched a 52-week low of $14.2 less than a week ago. However, CROX stepped $0.51 higher to $15.06 yesterday and options volume on the ticker was about 8,000 calls and 650 puts. January 17.5 calls, which are 16.2% out-of-the-money and expiring in 30 days, were the most actives. 3,517 traded, including an 1800-lot for $0.20 on the International Securities Exchange, where data indicate an investor bought-to-open a new position. January 16 calls on CROX saw increasing interest as well. Buyers of these January 16 and 17.5 calls were opening positions and apparently anticipating an upside move in CROX shares before January 22, 2012.

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At the time of publication, Henry Schwartz held no positions in the stocks or issues mentioned.

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