NEW YORK --- An interesting trend emerged in the option market last week as traders bet on stocks to break out to new highs.
OptionMonster's Heat Seeker tracking system identified bullish call-buying that is looking for several names to clear their resistance levels. And in some cases, traders have already profited nicely from those moves occurring.
Long calls lock in the price where investors can buy a stock, letting them position for a rally at limited cost. They carry less risk than owning shares because the most that can be lost is the price of the options no matter how far the stock might fall.
Here are some examples that we have seen in just the last few days:
Dunkin' Brands (DNKN) : Traders rolled the November 47.50 calls up to the December 50s last Wednesday. The doughtnut chain was back to a resistance line around $48 that dated to the spring. It pushed higher the next session, and those calls almost doubled.
EMC (EMC) : The data-storage company has never spent much time above $30, but that didn't stop traders from buying the December 31 calls on Friday.
Express Scripts (ESRX) : A position was rolled from the January 72.50 calls to the January 80 calls on Thursday. The pharmacy-benefit services provider has never traded much above $79.
NetApp (NTAP) : The network-storage company has been trapped below $46 for more than three years, but traders were buying the December 46 calls on Friday.
Lions Gate (LGF) : Last Monday, traders bought the studio's November 35 calls with the stock parked at $34. Shares popped on Thursday, and those calls inched higher. The timing wasn't great on these, but they fit the trend.
Red Hat (RHT) : Someone rolled 11,275 January 62.50 calls up in price and nearer in time on Friday, which is highly unusual. The trader swapped to the December 65s, betting on a breakout to levels not seen in this software company since the dot-com bubble.
Staples (SPLS) : The office-supply retailer had major resistance at $14 dating back to late 2011, when it was resistance, then it was support in mid-2013. Traders snapped up the November 14 calls on Wednesday.
Applied Materials (AMAT) : The chip-equipment maker has been trapped below $23 for a decade, but traders bought an April 23/27 bullish call spread 20,000 times on Friday. Volume was below open interest at the lower strike, so it could have been a short-call roll. Either way, they're looking for a run through the stock's long-term high.By David Russell of OptionMonster
Russell has no positions in the stocks mentioned.