By Jud Pyle, CFA, chief investment strategist for the
Heavy options activity
in Hartford Financial Group
crossed the tape the same day the company closed a deal to take over Federal Trust Bank, but at least one bullish investor appeared to be selling puts.
During midday trading Thursday, approximately 20,000 HIG Sept. 10 puts changed hands for around $1.05 with the stock at $12. The Sept. 10 puts, which dropped 30 cents on the day Thursday, were home to open interest of 48,000 contracts. More than 24,000 HIG puts changed hands yesterday versus the 10,000 calls that traded, but the price change in the puts is down more than delta, which indicates a seller.
Thursday morning, HIG announced it acquired Federal Trust Bank for around $10 million. The insurance company needed to own a bank before it could access $3.4 billion in TARP funds. Acquisitions generally imply company fortitude, and at least one investor could be expressing bullishness even though HIG needed ownership of a bank before it could access TARP funds.
HIG shares have rallied more than 350% since reaching a 52-week low of $3.62 on March 5. It looks like one investor might be betting that HIG shares will at least hold at their current levels. The investor needs the stock to expire higher than $8.95 in the September expiration month. HIG shares closed up 50 cents to $12.10. In pre-market trading, HIG shares were up 5 cents to $12.15.
Put-selling activity doesn't necessarily mean investors should turn bullish on HIG, but it's noteworthy that at least one investor might see future upside in the insurance company.
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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."