OptionMonster's Heat Seeker system detected heavy buying in the February 11 calls early in the session for 25 cents to 38 cents. Volume quickly dwarfed open interest, which indicates that new money was put to work.
Long calls lock in the price where investors can buy a stock, allowing them to position for a rally at limited cost because only the cost of the options would be lost in a selloff. They can also generate significant leverage if shares move higher, which is what happened Tuesday.
At one point the stock was up more than 20%, but the February 11s tripled to 88 cents. Shares eased back from their peak but still ended the session up 12% to $8.93.
Ziopharm has been running hard since October, gapping higher on Jan. 14 after management announced a licensing agreement with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. It pulled back to $7 last week before continuing higher.
Overall option turnover in the name was eight times greater than average in the session, of which 86% were calls. Volume in the February 11s approached 12,800 contracts by the end of the day.
-- Written by David Russell of OptionMonster
Russell has no positions in ZIOP