Options: Sedated Bullishness in Potash

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

Shares of Potash ( POT) have rallied nearly 6% so far on a down market day and normal daily options volume has doubled, but this volume is not heading in one direction.

Approximately 34,000 Potash options contracts normally trade daily across all strikes, but around 63,000 contracts have changed hands so far today. The bulk of that volume traded in calls throughout the July expiration month.

An investor bought 10,000 July 110 calls for 80 cents per contract, sold July 120 calls 20,000 times for 20 cents each and bought 10,000 July 130 calls for 15 cents a contract with Potash stock trading around $96.25 a share. This is a bullish trade because the investor makes the most money if the stock is right at $120 at July expiration and does not get into the black until the stock is above $110.55, which is a rally of over 15% in two weeks. But note that it is not as bullish as if all 40,000 of the contracts in this spread had been on the buy side.

Fertilizer stocks like Potash seem to be going into the holiday weekend on a high note after Uralkali, Russia's second-largest potash producer, raised its prices on improving demand. In addition, an analyst from K+S's fertilizer unit said the farming industry should see prices rise to levels they can work with. Add to that speculation that unofficial results from an Indian fertilizer tender are showing flat year-on-year pricing and you have the makings for a move higher today.

Potash shares have rallied more than 45% since reaching a 52-week low of $66.31 on March 6. Three weeks ago, the stock rallied up to $117.88 a share. After the big pullback we have seen in the shares in the last three weeks, it's interesting that this investor could be betting that Potash stock might rally higher in the next couple weeks.

Meet Jud Pyle live in Las Vegas at the Forex & Options Expo.

Jud Pyle is the chief investment strategist for Options News Network (www.ONN.tv) and the portfolio manager of TheStreet.com Options Alerts. Click here for a free trial for Options Alerts. Mr. Pyle writes regularly about options investing for TheStreet.com.

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."

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