By Chris Lau, Kapitall Contributor Activity in the options market is a source for identifying stocks set to make big moves. A rise in implied volatility usually happens when a big event is about to occur. Another, more common reason for rising volatility is due to stocks fluctuating over the past few sessions. There are 5 companies worth a closer look, each with the implied volatility rising significantly: The List Average 1-Year Return for these stocks is -38%. Are they ready for a rebound? 1. Akamai Technologies (AKAM): Implied volatility rose 84.3% for August 2013 options. Akamai shares plunged below $34 in mid-February. Shares were downgraded by Jeffries (to Hold) and by Janney Capital (to neutral). The company reported light guidance for the current first quarter. It is speculated that the company may shift the product mix from low-margin media contracts to high-margin services. This is a good move for the long-term, but the shift will put pressure on earnings in the short-term. The CEO, Tom Leighton, bought 50,000 shares on February 8 2013. He now holds 3.1M shares. 2. Alcatel-Lucent (ALU). $1.50 calls expiring next month saw volatility increase by 20%. The company was analyzed as possibly reaching $2. Alcatel-Lucent reported earnings that were strong for the quarter, but the exit of the CEO was a cause for concern for some shareholders. Morgan Stanley upgraded the company after the company revealed a financing deal. The risk of insolvency is off the table. 3. Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF). Puts with an exercise price of $37 rose 12.1% in volatility, ahead of the earnings report. Cliffs subsequently plunged to under $30, rewarding bearish option holders. Cliffs cut its dividend and issued shares, diluting shareholders to shore up its balance sheet. The company has around $4B in debt, and a market capitalization of around $4.1B.
4. Zynga (ZNGA). Volatility increased 11% for a bearish put with a callable price of $2.50. Zynga shares traded above $3.50 after reporting quarterly earnings. It appears unlikely Zynga will drop to $2.50 by next month. The company continues to reduce its reliance on Facebook (FB). Real-money gambling titles will be available in the U.K.
To focus on profitable titles, Zynga shut down 11 game titles late-last year. They were also on the top Facebook game list in December 2012 for five of the titles, including FarmVille 2, Texas HoldEm Poker, and ChefVille.
5. Talisman Energy (TLM). Call options with an exercise price of $30 saw volatility increase nearly 11% for March and July expiries. The energy exploration company reported productions that averaged 426,000 boe per day in Q4. Cash flow dropped to $675M, or $0.66 per share. This is down from $0.81 per share last year. Written by Kapitall contributor Chris Lau. Disclosure: Author has a long position on Alcatel-Lucent.