Judging from the trading in
options, it doesn't seem that many players are looking to speculate on whether or not the stock has bottomed.
With a growing perception that the earnings warning storm has passed, options traders didn't seem in a hurry to speculate on much today. Rod Jamieson, vice president of options,
First Union Securities
, said overall there hadn't been any significant flows options-wise Thursday morning.
priceline.com, which rained bad news on the market
today by shutting down its nascent
operation, traded below its available strike prices, making plays on further weakness or cheap bottom-fishing more difficult than usual until late morning.
For much of the morning a lower strike price on the options was not available. Options with a 5 strike price were added late in the morning.
Typically, when a stock crumbles, traders will either buy inexpensive call options on the chance of appreciation if the stock rebounds or put options to play for further weakness.
Coming into the session, the lowest strike price on priceline.com's options was 7 1/2. Shares of priceline.com opened at $7.06 and tumbled from there. The stock was down $2.75, or 29%, to $6.63 at midday.
Options on priceline.com trade on the
Chicago Board Options Exchange
American Stock Exchange
Philadelphia Stock Exchange
International Securities Exchange
A trader at the CBOE, speaking before the additional 5 strike price was added, said there was little activity in priceline.com options, with most of Thursday trading attributed to investors closing out positions, the trader said.
One of the most heavily traded options on priceline.com were the October 7 1/2 calls, where a little more than 700 contracts traded on the CBOE, compared to open interest of 78 contracts, indicating that the trading in those options were new positions. The calls were down 1 9/16 ($156.25) to 9/16 ($56.25).
Investors could be using those calls, which would appreciate if priceline.com's shares rose, as a cheap play on a potential rebound in the stock. Or they simply could be selling the calls to take in cash against the chance that the stock will be able to pop past 7.50 a share before Oct. 20.
The only options with a 5 strike price trading currently were the October 5 puts, where a paltry 15 contracts traded on the CBOE. The puts were trading at 5/16 ($31.25).
Priceline WebHouse Club
, which licensed priceline.com's name-your-own price technology to sell groceries and gasoline, said it will cease operations by early next year.
priceline.com wasn't a direct investor in its licensee, but it did receive $4.3 million in reimbursement for royalties and $361,000 in royalties in the second quarter from WebHouse.
As originally published, this story contained an error. Please see
Corrections and Clarifications.