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By Jud Pyle, CFA, chief investment strategist for the Options News Network

Shares of department store name

J.C. Penney

(JCP) - Get J. C. Penney Company, Inc. Report

are currently down roughly 1% so far on the day, but heavy call-buying action throughout Monday's trading session suggests investors anticipate the stock will turn up throughout the near term.

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JCP shares have dropped 31 cents to $32.78 so far on the day with about an hour left of trading. The stock is trading roughly 13% off its 52-week high of $37.21. The company is due to announce same-store sales on April 8, and has not announced an earnings release date (analysts anticipate the report sometime around May 14).

By 3 p.m. EST, roughly 10,100 front-month April 35 calls had changed hands versus current open interest of 1,000 contracts. The largest block of these out-of-the-money calls crossed the tape during midday trading for the ask price of 15 cents per contract.

This options action indicates investors bought these options to open, and will make money if JCP shares close higher than $35.15 prior to April options expiration . The April 35 calls are currently unchanged on the day, and have an implied volatility of 31%. This level compares to the stock's 30-day historical volatility of 29%.

This action comes on the heels of bullish option activity earlier this month, when a trader bought calls at the April 28 and 30 strikes and sold puts at the April 26 strike. The three-way combination was traded for a net debit of 40 cents and looks for JCP to close above 30 at expiration to reach maximum profit potential. If JCP shares blast through the $35-mark, investors who bought these calls might choose to take profits and sell the options back instead of holding them until expiration.

Jud Pyle is the chief investment strategist for Options News Network ( and the portfolio manager of Options Alerts. Click here for a free trial for Options Alerts. Mr. Pyle writes regularly about options investing for

Jud Pyle, CFA, is the chief investment strategist for Options News Network. Pyle started his career in finance in 1994 as a derivative analyst with SBC Warburg. After four years with Warburg, Pyle joined PEAK6 Investments, L.P., in 1998 as an equity options trader and as chief risk officer. A native of Minneapolis, Pyle received his bachelor's degree in economics and history from Colgate University in 1994. As a trader, Pyle traded on average over 5,000 contracts per day, and over 1.2 million contracts per year. He also built the stock group for all PEAK6 Investments, L.P. hedging, which currently trades on average over 5 million shares per day, and over 1 billion shares per year. Further, from 2004-06, he managed the trading and risk management for PEAK6 Investments L.P.'s lead market-maker operation on the former PCX exchange, which traded more than 10,000 contracts per day. Pyle is the "Mad About Options" resident expert. He is also a regular contributor to "Options Physics."