By Jud Pyle, CFA, chief investment strategist for the Options News NetworkShares of United Parcel Service ( UPS) have fallen as much as 3.7% today to just below $54. The company is set to announce earnings next Thursday, April 23, and after quite a run from $38 to $56 in this bear market rally, some investors are seeking protection from a possible drop. Within the first 20 minutes of trading this morning, UPS was down about 90-cents, or 1.6%, and more than 25,000 of the May 55 puts traded for around $2.50. Open interest in these puts was only 6,392 Thursday, according to the Sidewinder report at www.ONN.tv. By 9 a.m., the May 45 puts joined the fray with volume of 8,500 vs. open interest of only 3,900. In the news, JPMorgan Chase issued a report today suggesting weak IP and transport data signal downside risk for first-quarter UPS earnings. They also believe consensus 2009 EPS could fall further, but maintained their price target of $57.