Options action in big-cap technology bellwethers was heavy Thursday as the
Nasdaq Composite Index
soared again, and market watchers wondered when the market was going to take a break from its recent surge.
Scott Fullman, chief options strategist at
Swiss American Securities
, noted that the
Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index
was giving an overbought signal but was not flashing a sell signal yet. He said it would be giving a sell signal if it fell below 20.
call options was heavy Thursday, particularly the July 60
in-the-money calls, on the
American Stock Exchange
Chicago Board Options Exchange
where a total of 15,750 contracts have traded.
Shares of Cisco were up 2 3/4 to 66 5/8. The July 60 calls were up 2 ($200) to 7 ($700) on the Amex.
calls was brisk as the stock charged higher after its
earnings report was released Wednesday after the bell. More than 9,500 July 35 calls traded on the Amex. The calls were up 1 15/16 ($193.75) to 4 3/8 ($437.50) as the stock climbed 2 5/8, or 7.2% to 38 7/8.
options have been getting a lot of attention in recent sessions and implied volatility on its options has also been unusually high. That makes traders suspicious.
On Tuesday at the CBOE, more than 3,000 July 25 call options traded, while on Wednesday 2,500 of the August 25 calls changed hands. The last trade on the August 25 calls Wednesday was at 1 7/16, up 3/8, on a day when the stock was taking a hit.
On Thursday, the stock was bouncing back, up 5/8 to 24 5/8. As for options trading Thursday, only 26 contracts have changed hands. On the CBOE, 25 September 30
out-of-the-money calls changed hands, down 1/16 ($6.25) to 3/4 ($75).
Implied volatility has also been high on the stock's options lately, analysts pointed out. Implied volatility is the annualized measure of how much the market thinks a stock or index can potentially move and is a critical factor in an option's price. When market makers raise implied volatility, they are expecting bigger movement in underlying securities' price, either up or down. Implied volatility readings often rise ahead of market-moving news in a stock.
The company has been also mentioned as a takeover candidate in the past, according to some options market pros.
Fort James makes Quilted Northern bath tissue, Brawny paper towels and Dixie cups, in addition to business, office and printing paper.
The largest open interest is 5,620 contracts in the July 25 calls as of Wednesday's close. Fort James is slated to post earnings July 20.
Tom Mahowald, a senior securities analyst with
American Express Asset Management
, which owns shares of Fort James, said tissue pricing is improving for the company, while raw material price pressures have eased, which should help its profitability. Also helping out the company fundamentally is the fact that it has fixed the distribution problems that have plagued it in the past.
A major Wall Street firm sold 8,000
December 45 calls at the
American Stock Exchange
Thursday morning, not exactly a bullish bet on Pfizer.
The call seller is betting that by December, Pfizer's stock will be below the 45 strike price and that the options sold will expire worthless. The seller of the calls could also be long the stock and is using the sales to generate income off a position he expects to stall. Shares of Pfizer were off 1 19/32 to 46 3/8.
The calls traded at 5 3/4 ($575), down 1 1/4 ($125).