Never Buy Stocks Based on Unusual Call Activity: Doug Kass Insider

Masco (MAS) fell some 4% Thursday, which means we can add it to the list of many, many stocks that experienced unusual call activity that ultimately turned out to be absolutely non-predictive of future gains.

The business media highlighted Masco's unusual call volume in recent days, pointing to it as a hint of a coming rally. But as I wrote in a recent tweet, "the inference in 'unusual options activity' is that there is smart (maybe even illegal) knowledge on the part of the call buyers about a stock's coming rise. Of course, no one says that -- but it's the case. That is not the basis for a trading strategy, at least to me."

Other recent false "tells" of "unusual call activity" have included Lowe's (LOW) , Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) , Walmart (WMT) and Walt Disney Co. (DIS) . All of these stocks tanked within one or two weeks of the unusual call trading.

Now, it's important to recognize that the investment mosaic is complex, and that numerous factors can contribute to investors' decision-making processes. I remain open to a plethora of different stock-selection strategies that are founded either fundamentally or technically, as long as they're based on logic, reason, relationships and analysis.

But in my view, buying a stock based solely on unusual call activity isn't a reasoned strategy that has consistently contributed to excess returns over time and through different market cycles. Instead, it's just a mistaken non-strategy.

(A version of this column originally appeared at 1:52 p.m. ET on Real Money Pro, our premium site for active traders and Wall Street professionals. Click here to get great columns like this from Doug Kass, Jim Cramer and other experts even earlier in the trading day.)

At the time of publication, Kass was short DIS and WMT, although positions may change at any time.

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