The combination of expiration and a Thursday night earnings report have left the options players dabbling in
in a volatile situation on this triple-witching Friday.
Their problem revolves around the high prices they paid for both put and call options in the past week -- traffic was heavy in both -- leading into last night's earnings.
The reaction to those earnings has been negative: While Oracle did beat expectations, its sales of B2B software didn't burn anyone's barn. With the stock down $4.31 to $85.63, the thousands of put buyers who speculated on such a scenario should be benefiting.
Instead, the implied volatility portion of the option's price has almost totally eaten away at Oracle's September options prices. Implied volatility, the measure of how much the market thinks a stock can move, is one of the key components of an option's price. Another is time. On expiration Friday, time is all but gone, and if volatility was high coming into earnings, it dies out once the news is released and digested.
As a result, Oracle's September 80 puts traded down 3/4 ($75) to 5/8 ($62.50) this morning on volume of about 5000 contracts. The September 85 calls, contracts that were oh-so-close to being in the money Thursday, saw their price fall 2 11/16 ($268.75) to 3/16 ($18.75) en route to expiring worthless.
Paul Foster, the strategist at
, described Oracle's volatility readings this week as "all juiced to around 75% or 80%. Today they're down in the mid-50% range."
Elsewhere, even though some analysts expect an expiration rally at the end of the day, investors seemed more interested in selling call options against that possibility.
One New York trader said his clients were selling call options on tech stocks such as
, taking in the premium on the chance that today's action won't push them much higher.
Call sellers get paid to take on the obligation of delivering shares to call buyers if the latter exercises at the terms of the particular contract. Call buyers pay for the right to buy a stock at a preset price at a specified time.
It's short-term trading at its best, but it is a dangerous game best left to professionals.
Thursday brought a big move in
, a time-share resort company, that traders seemed at a loss to explain.
1010WallStreet's Foster says that Fairfield's options typically trade less than 30 contracts a day, but yesterday volume sprang to about 1500, mostly in call options.
If someone is expecting a big move in Fairfield, which was almost acquired by cruise line
, they're following through in it today as well.
With the stock down 6 cents to $8.81 a share, the October 7 1/2 calls traded 289 contracts, traffic that pushed the price of the options up 1/8 ($12.50) to 2 1/8 ($212.50).