By Jud Pyle, CFA, chief investment strategist for the Options News Network

Apollo Group ( APOL) has attracted the attention of some long-term call buyers today. The November 85 strike has seen more than 5,000 contracts trade on open interest of a scarce 10 contracts. It's a safe assumption that this volume will translate into new open interest come tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, the November 110 calls have seen similar action -- volume of more than 5,000 contracts on negligible open interest (31 contracts).

The trader has executed a call spread here, buying the 85 call and selling the 110 call, resulting in a net debit of around $3.5 per contract. The trader's sale of the further-out-of-the-money call offsets the cost of the 85-strike position, but remember that any potential gains in the stock are capped above the 110 strike.

APOL shares have dropped nearly 9% today, placing the 85 strike about 34% out-of-the-money. But November expiration is a long way off, and after all it was as recently as mid-January that the stock hit a 52-week high close to $90. In recent weeks -- aside from a late-March rally -- options volatility has pulled in somewhat and APOL shares have taken a beating.

Apollo is in the education business and the parent of The University of Phoenix. Given the current state of the labor markets, many have speculated that now may be the time for education stocks to shine. The hypothesis is that unemployed Americans will find a silver lining to their job loss by furthering their education. The investor active today may be expecting a rebound in APOL. This is one sector to watch carefully.

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."