Yet another major east coast snowstorm is distracting some traders today and February option volume is running a bit light, with an average of 16.7 million contracts trading daily, compared to more than 18 million in January. Yellen's comments this week quickly reversed that little slide we saw at the end of last month, with the broad market recovering nearly 4% in the first half of this month.
Since 'greed' is now in the driver's seat (maybe fear stepped out to put chains on the tires), we are seeing several names with aggressive bullish option flow in the form of upside call buying coincident with increasing open interest and lifting IV.
Rentech Nitrogen (RNF) is a fertilizer company and call volume is very heavy for such a thinly traded stock. Nearly 3,600 calls in the first hour, vs 25 puts and call adv of only 638 contracts. Slightly in-the-money July 17.5 calls are the focus. Shares near their 52-week low and today's call volume echoes flow seen last month when April 20 calls were seeing buyers as shares traded near that strike.
Chinese internet firm DangDang (DANG) is also seeing bullish flow. The stock is up $0.20 to $10.45 and 4236 Mar 12s were bought , priced near $0.55. 6,860 now traded against 4,095 in open interest and the market is $0.55-$0.60. Earnings due on February 27 and this is a very volatile name, with realized and implied vols near 80%.
NationStar Mortgage (NSM) is seeing bullish action in the form of wide-strike call spread. Buyer paid $2.70 for 15,000 of the Jan 35-50 call spreads to open a new position. Stock near the low end of a wide $27-$57 range and today's buyer is laying out more than $4 million for this position that could potentially pay off 555% if NSM were to rally 66% this year (albeit that appears to be a 9% probability). Tenet Healthcare (THC) Feb 48 calls in demand this morning as shares trade near $47. Shares near the top end of their 52-week range, but I'll keep an eye on this one as we get closer to earnings on February 24.
Xilinx (XLNX) saw very bullish flow on Wednesday and while it looks like a trader may be taking some gains on 50 strike calls bought yesterday, the put/call skew is very flat- meaning out of the money calls are notably bid versus puts- that tells me the market still believes upside is a greater risk than downside for the chipmaker.
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