By Jud Pyle, CFA, chief investment strategist for the Options News Network
Obama's health care reform plan is experiencing resistance from both sides, and at least one investor expressed longer-term bearishness on
out of the gate today.
During the first hour of trading today, more than 7,600 Jan. 2010 25 puts changed hands for around $2 with the stock trading at $27.93. Investors who bought these puts need UNH shares to expire below $23 at the beginning of next year. These puts are home to current open interest of 4,000 contracts, indicating investors traded these options to open. The Jan. 25 puts are currently trading up 23 cents with a delta of 30 cents. That means that for every dollar that the stock moves, the puts should move 30 cents. Because UNH shares are currently trading down 37 cents, the puts should be climbing approximately 11 cents, but they are trading up twice as much. Today's put buyers in UNH have pushed the price of the Jan. 25 puts up and simultaneously pushed up implied volatility to 49.2.
UNH stock has rallied nearly 8% since a recent low of $25.98 on Aug. 6, but at least one investor is looking for the shares to drop at least 18% in the next five months. (UNH shares have not dipped to $23 since April.)
UNH did not announce significant news to catalyze heavy put-buying activity such as this, but investors should not run out and sell their UNH shares. Keep in mind that the investor could have bought puts to hedge against buying the stock. It's interesting that this investor is buying the later-dated options and pushing up implied volatility in the process.
Jud Pyle is the chief investment strategist for Options News Network (www.ONN.tv) and the portfolio manager of TheStreet.com Options Alerts. Click here for a free trial for Options Alerts. Mr. Pyle writes regularly about options investing for TheStreet.com.
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."