Thought the pain was over, didn't ya?
While the market's decline Friday isn't as bad as Thursday's rally was good, the options market was showing investors are more worried than they have been in a while, especially in some key technology stocks.
That concern was being expressed in the amount of put options -- the type of contract that appreciates as a stock's price falls -- being bought in major trades Friday morning.
, once the apple of investors' eyes, have worn a path down from the 70s to the teens. Now, investors may be playing it to fall into the single digits. More than 50,000 of the May 10 Cisco puts traded on the
American Stock Exchange
this morning, their price running 1/8 ($12.5) to 9/16 ($56.25).
Cisco was trading down $1.13 to $13.56 this morning.
In smaller tech names,
, an optical component company, saw an investor close out a 1,500-contract position in its April 35 puts and buy about 4,000 of its April 25 puts, essentially a bet the stock will keep falling.
The price of the April 25 puts rose 7/8 ($87.50) to 4 5/8 ($462.50) on the action as Exfo shares dropped $1.69 to $22.31.
"There appear to be buyers of put options as volatility goes up, especially on tech stocks," said Paul Foster, of
. "A lot of the action, I think, is from investors who sold these puts thinking the market couldn't get worse. Now they're trying to cover those short positions."
In Cisco, Foster surmised, investors could think its situation was getting worse as
continue to take their lumps.
volatility, measured by the
Chicago Board Options Exchange
Nasdaq Volatility Index, hit an annual high of 80.46 today, before receding to the 79 levels, where it sat at midday. That reading essentially means that investors are more willing to pay more money for put options on Nasdaq stock.
Investors often "sell volatility" -- meaning they sell put options against the chance of being forced to buy the stock if it falls through the strike price of the options. Investors who thought volatility had peaked two weeks back likely sold puts, which they thought would expire worthless and allow them to keep the premium if the market stopped falling.
Not this time.