By Chris McKhann
Traders buying options with only a week to go until September options expire must have a driving reason to do so, and that is apparently the case with BB&T (NYSE:BBT).
The holding company closed the week at $26.77, but our systems show heavy buying of the September 25 puts, with more than 25,000 contracts changing hands, the vast majority bought on the offer. This action was some eight times the open interest in BBT, clearly marking new opening positions. The largest block of 7,000 contracts was bought for $0.25.
Trading in the shares of the stock were also very active in that same time period, with roughly 600,000 shares trading in the 10 minutes surrounding the heaviest options action. This leads to the idea that this was likely a so-called delta-neutral trade that was looks for an increase in volatility regardless of the stock's direction.
The shares have traded between $26 and $28 for the last month but were down at $20 in July. The average implied volatility is at 48 percent, hovering just above 52-week lows and coming down from $110 back in April.
Historical volatility is down at 45 percent, also near 52-week lows, and coming in from 120 percent as recently as May. The BBT trades are looking for a pop in these volatility levels before Friday's expiration.