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Options: Varian Calls Active on Buyout Talk

Siemens is rumored to be a potential suitor for Varian Medical Systems.
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By Jud Pyle, CFA, chief investment strategist for the Options News Network

Varian Medical Systems


has rallied more than 5% today as the rumor mills churn about a possible buyout.



, a German technology firm, is speculated to be the potential suitor. Soleil Securities initiated coverage on the stock today, giving VAR a buy rating and a 12-month price target of $38.

Call buyers have swooped in as a likely result of this speculation. The April 35 call has seen more than 5,000 contracts trade on paltry open interest of fewer than 600 contracts. Even with today's gain in the stock, this call is still out of the money, with about one week until expiration.

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Takeover chatter has been a trend of late --




MEMC Electronic Materials


and now Varian.

When the economy is in a funk, mergers and acquisitions tend to dry up. Renewed takeover talk could mean a more bullish point of view overall, at least as far as corporate America is concerned.

As for today's call buyers, many of the contracts, which changed hands in a series of small blocks today, went off at a volume-weighted average price of 48 cents per contract. For the option to be in the money at expiration on April 17, the stock will need to rally 6.9% to $35.48 (on average). While a 7% gain in one week may seem ambitious, the shares have already gained 22% off their 52-week low, hit about one month ago.

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."