The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) – The largest operator of theme parks is a far cry from the happiest place on Earth for investors in Disney today as shares realized their biggest intraday decline since September 2001. The company reported better-than-expected earnings after the closing bell on Tuesday, but the subsequent pop in DIS shares disappeared in the blink of an eye as investors began to price in concerns that slowing economic growth may hit Disney hard given its reliance on the consumer’s willingness to spend. DIS shares fell as much as 14.7% this morning to secure a new 52-week low of $29.60. Though shares tumbled today, it looks like a number of options strategists are positioning for the magic to eventually return. Contrarians betting on a rebound took to multiple expiries, buying calls and selling puts in the August contract, as well as initiating bullish spreads in longer-dated contracts. Near-term optimists employed largely plain-vanilla strategies, picking up more than 2,450 calls at the August $32 strike for an average premium of $0.49 apiece. A number of traders taking in an average premium of $0.66 per contract on the sale of 2,100 puts at the August $29 strike seem more than happy to get long the stock at that level should the puts land in-the-money at expiration next week. Of course, investors selling the puts walk away with the full amount of premium as long as shares exceed $29.00 by next Friday.
Meanwhile, longer-term bullish players appear to be purchasing call spreads. The 2,500-lot Jan. 2012 $30/$40 call spread purchased at a net premium of $2.85 per contract yields positive returns for one strategist should Disney’s shares rally above the effective breakeven point at $32.85 by expiration next year. The buyer of the spread could fetch maximum potential profits of $7.15 per contract in the event that Disney’s shares jump 27.3% over the current price of $31.42 (share price as of 12:10 pm ET) to top $40.00 at expiration day. Traders also showed interest in the Jan. 2013 $35/$40 call spread, which looks to have been purchased roughly 4,000 times at a net cost of $1.42 per contract. Signs the economic recovery is getting back on track, or signals Disney is able to weather the slowing environment better than the market currently expects going forward, could lift the price of the underlying to the delight of DIS bulls. Options implied volatility on Disney rose 13.9% to 47.8% by 12:20 pm in New York trade.
UBS AG (UBS) – Foreign banks are getting slammed today on rumors one French bank may be insolvent amid persistent fears over the European debt crisis. Financials led U.S. stocks lower Wednesday, and shares in global financial services provider, UBS were certainly not spared. UBS shares are currently down 5.2% to arrive at $13.96 as of 1:00 pm ET. Some investors populating UBS options are signaling the worst is yet to come for the Swiss bank. Traders exchanged more than 2,900 puts at the December $12 strike against zero open positions. It looks like much of the volume was driven by one buyer paying $1.04 per contract for approximately 2,350 puts, although upwards of 2,500 puts were purchased at that strike in the first half of the session. Put buyers make money if shares in UBS drop 21.5% in the months ahead to trade below the average breakeven price of $10.96 at December expiration. Shares in UBS haven’t dipped below $10.96 since April 2009. Options implied volatility on the stock stands 9.8% higher this afternoon at 73.26%.
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd. (TEVA) – One options player has taken a liking to Teva Pharmaceuticals, with shares in the Israeli company currently hovering just above new multi-year lows set earlier in the week. The investor appears to be positioning for shares in the drug maker to rebound by the end of the year. Shares currently trade 2.9% lower on the session at $38.60 just after 12:30 pm on the East Coast. The trader initiated a debit call spread, buying 5,000 calls at the December $40 strike for a premium of $2.82 apiece, and selling the same number of calls up at the December $47.5 strike at a premium of $0.65 each. Net premium paid for the trade amounts to $2.17 per contract, thus preparing the strategist to profit should Teva’s shares rally 9.25% over the current price of $38.60 to surpass the effective breakeven point at $42.17 by December expiration. The investor faces a maximum possible payout of $5.33 per contract if shares in the drug company jump 23.0% to $47.50 at expiration day. Nearer-term prints in both calls and puts paint a far more mixed picture of investor expectations for Teva. Buyers of September $40 and $42.5 strike calls generated some volume, but it was the September $40, $37.5 and $35 strike puts that attracted the most trading traffic. Roughly 1.2 puts are changing hands on the stock for each single call in action this afternoon.
Paychex, Inc. (PAY) – Bears had it out with the provider of payroll services today, snapping up put options on the stock to position for a continued slide in the price of the underlying through December expiration. Shares in Paycheck are down 2.5% to stand at $26.07 in early-afternoon trade. Demand for PAY’s options is heavily skewed towards puts, with the put-to-call ratio resting just shy of 13-to-1 today. Investors expecting shares in Paychex to pull back further purchased around 2,500 puts at the December $24 strike for an average premium of $1.25 apiece. Pessimism spread to the lower December $22 strike where another 1,350 puts were picked up for an average premium of $0.80 a-pop. Traders long the lower-strike contracts stand prepared to profit should PAY’s shares plunge 18.7% to breach a new 2-year low of $21.20 at expiration day. Investors holding the December $24 strike puts paid more for the options, but require a lesser 12.7% downside move in shares to breakeven at $22.75.