Sometimes, options trading feels like
Let's Make a Deal
, more like betting on the prize behind door No. 3 than fundamental investing.
But to cut through the guesswork, investors can divine the thoughts of sophisticated players on future trends in specific stocks, especially during earnings season.
Amid rocky earnings reports and warnings from
, investors took some comfort in
as call options continued to grow more expensive.
Every teen's favorite clothing firm is expected to report earnings in the next few weeks, and apparently investors are willing to pay up ahead of the numbers on the anticipation of good news.
Tommy's July 80 calls were up 1/2 ($50) to 2 1/4 ($225) by midday, albeit in thin volume. Its August 80 calls were up 3/4 ($75) to 5 3/8 ($537.50), also in thin but possibly telling volume.
"Compared to all the other companies that are reporting bad earnings, Tommy continues on a run," said Michelle Skupp, half of the options strategy team at
. "We have no idea why those earnings reports aren't shaking people up more." Though the options contract volumes aren't impressive for Tommy, the higher price may hold the key to predicting good earnings, she said.
Among other chunky percentage movers,
July 15 puts gained 11/16 ($68.75) to 2 3/4 ($275) on volume of 300 contracts. The stock was down at the same time, losing 1/2 to 12 1/2.
Parametric, an engineering software firm, plans to release third quarter earnings before the open on July 20 before the market opens. As for the earnings report, analysts generally seem to have some concern because of a lack of visibility for orders after some big deals apparently failed to close in the quarter.
analyst Laura Conigliaro wrote in a report today that she had modeled in $280 million in revenue for the quarter, up 14% from last year's $245 million. Because of "a number of larger orders which did not close in the quarter," however, revenue may come in around $270 million.
She estimated earnings of 18 cents a share in the quarter, up from 16 cents a year ago, but notes that every $5 million drop in revenue from her $280 million estimate knocks about a penny off of earnings.
But beware: Sometimes, as with
, the price is bouncing only because the options are normally thinly traded.
"It's just one firm in there today, probably a portfolio trade hedging stock with the August 20 puts," said a
floor trader. "Given that it's just one trade, it's pretty much meaningless."
Roughly 900 contracts in the August 20 puts traded early in the session, with the puts traded on the
up 3/16 ($18.75) to 1 5/8 ($162.50) and those on the Pacific down 1/4 ($25) to 1 9/16 ($156.25). Open interest totaled just 10 contracts.
Lastly, a word from those contrarian end of the options world.
Salomon Smith Barney's
proprietary put-call ratio hit a "pretty bullish" point, according to strategist Kevin Murphy. "We've definitely seen more put hedging than before, and our internal readings are high," at 0.73. "Anything over 0.50 is really bullish for us. The market is still cautious, but it appears to be breaking out," Murphy said.
To compare sentiment gauges, the
Chicago Board Options Exchange's
equity put-call ratio is in a downward trend, having started to roll lower in mid-June, a "sign of a healthy market," according to Schaeffer's Investment Research.