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

An investor boosts American Express ( AXP) put options volume out of the gate Wednesday on a potential bet that the stock won't see a rally before August expiration.

An investor bought 11,000 Aug. 27 puts for $1.05 with the stock trading at $28.74 a share. This means the investor needs AXP shares to expire lower than $25.95 on expiration Friday next month. The Aug. 27 puts closed up 15 cents on the day and were home to open interest of 7,900 contracts.

The closely watched credit card company reports second-quarter earnings today after the close, and the big question is, "Will the shares rally on the heels of earnings figures, or won't they?"

AXP shares are up more than 100% since March 6, but keep in mind that it's important to look at the run in the stock before getting too excited about earnings figures. Last quarter, AXP beat analyst expectations by 10 cents, and analysts expect 26 cents per share for the second quarter.

This put-buyer could be betting that AXP shares might pull back despite a potential positive earnings announcement. On the other hand, bullish investors could read the month-long rally as more upside in the stock beyond earnings.

AXP shares closed down 62 cents to $28.76 Wednesday, and are currently trading up 24 cents, to $29, as trading gets under way.

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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."