When buying a stock, I've found historically that looking at options volume is a great indicator for one simple reason: they provide fantastic leverage for investors. Each contract allows for an investor the right to buy (a call contract) or right to sell (a put contact) 100 shares, meaning 100 to 1 leverage essentially. Therefore, if I'm an investor and extremely confident about an upcoming earnings report, related news event, etc. I'd look to the company's options rather than just buying the common stock outright. These companies below had options volume that caught my eye on Nov. 29.
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) manufactures, distributes, and markets nonalcoholic beverages worldwide. I recently wrote about the great value KO has here, and there was bullish options activity on Nov. 29 with well over 5,000 Dec 67.5 expiring Dec. 17 call contracts changing hands. KO still trades at a historically cheap trailing 12x P/E, well over $7B in FCF this past year, fantastic return on equity exceeding 41%, and a nice dividend yield of 2.8%. I'd follow suit and be a buyer of the Dec 67.5 calls.
United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) provides technology products and services to the building systems and aerospace industries worldwide. I brought up UTX recently here, and it looks as though investors were bullish, aggressively selling the May 60 puts with over 6,000 being sold while a similar number of the May 82.5 calls were bought. I can see why investors are bullish as this world-class company trades at just a 13x trailing P/E, 12x forward P/E, 1.1x PEG and P/S, and 2.7% dividend yield. I would do this pair options trade as well, to benefit from UTX's upside.
Jefferies Group (JEF) together with its subsidiaries, operates as a securities and investment banking company. I recently brought up the great value JEF has here, and there was bullish options activity with over 1,200 Apr 16 calls being bought aggressively at the asking price. This deep out of the money purchasing is very bullish, and why not ,when it has had some massive insider buying and trades at a cheap trailing and forward 7x P/E, .5x PEG, .8x P/S, and .7x P/B. I'd buy these options as well, since JEF can certainly rocket higher when the current uncertainty clears up.
Commercial Metals (NYSE:CMC) engages in recycling, manufacturing, fabricating, and distributing steel and metal products, and related materials and services worldwide. CMC had particularly strong volume in the Jan 13 and 15 calls, with each having over 5,000 contracts traded. This looks to be a bullish bet as investors were rolling their bets at a higher share price, and this comes on the heels of Icahn's $15/share cash bid. Looks like investors look for a higher bid, and why not when the company is still relatively cheap at 8x forward P/E, .2x P/S, .3x EV/S, and 3.4% dividend yield. Buying the Jan 15 calls can make for a nice speculative buy.
Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (KKD) operates as a branded retailer and wholesaler of doughnuts, complementary beverages and treats, and packaged sweets. There was particularly strong volume in the Dec 7.5 calls and investors look to be bullish on the Nov. 30 earnings report. The company seems to have performed well over the last two quarters, but I'd stay away as I don't see this as a screaming buy at 26x trailing P/E, 19x forward P/E, no dividend, and close to 5x P/B.
Citigroup (NYSE:C), a global financial services company, provides consumers, corporations, governments, and institutions with a range of financial products and services. There was particularly strong volume in the May 34 calls with 6,145 contracts changing hands against only 373 in open interest. This seemed to be more of a covered call sale, as the options weren't bought aggressively. C makes for a nice speculative buy as the valuations look outstanding at just 5x trailing and forward P/E, .5x PEG, and .4x P/B. However, the company's balance sheet is still extremely shaky with the current economic turmoil, so I'd still stay away at this time.
SINA Corporation (NASDAQ:SINA) provides online media and mobile value-added services in the People's Republic of China. The stock moved up nicely by 5%, and there was bullish options activity with particularly the Dec 65 and 67.5 trading well over 1,100 contracts each, considerably higher than their open interest. However, even with this notable bullish options activity, I can't pull the trigger when the company lost over $400M in net income last year, has a 42x forward P/E, 9x P/S, and such an ugly price chart. I'd stay away from SINA for now.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.