Is Apache Headed to Triple Digits?

By David Russell, reporter at OptionMonster

NEW YORK -- Energy producer Apache ( APA) bounced at its 200-day moving average, and the bulls are looking for steady gains.

OptionMonster's tracking programs detected the purchase of 10,000 January 90 calls for $3.51 and the sale of an equal number of January 100 calls for $1.36. Volume was more than quadruple open interest at each strike, indicating new activity.

Owning calls locks in the price where investors can buy shares, while selling them fixes a maximum exit level. Combining the two strategies lets them control the spread between two prices at low cost.

For instance, Monday's Apache trader paid just $2.15 to open the position and will collect $10 if the stock closes at or above $100 on expiration. That's a profit of 365% in the options from a move of less than 20% in the share price.

Apache shares rose 3.42% to $84.08 Monday and are up 24% since hitting a four-year low last month. The natural-gas and oil producer is one of several energy companies that have rallied in recent weeks as investors turn bullish on the global economy.

Total option volume was five times greater than average in Apache Monday. Calls accounted for a bullish four-fifths of the total.

Russell has no positions in APA.
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