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 as I described here. These companies below had options volume that caught my eye on December 2.
Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), together with its subsidiaries, operates as a digital media company that delivers personalized digital content and experiences through various devices worldwide. There was notably strong volume with the December 18 calls, trading well over 16,000 contracts with aggressive buying- denoting bullishness. This looks to be a gamble with the numerous buyout rumors. So with such a short timeframe, this is only a buy for the most speculative investor.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC), through its subsidiaries, provides banking and financial services worldwide. There was bearish activity with the accumulation of over 33,000 March 6 puts against only 2,193 in open interest. I've written recently here about a notable investment manager who just made Bank of America in fact his largest holding. And while I'm still unsure about adding BAC above $5/share, I disagree in going short and following this put buying.
Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) engages in the acquisition, development, exploration, and production of natural gas and oil properties. There was a massive 5,000 contracts changing hands on the July 28 puts against only 66 in open interest, which was bearish as these were bought at the asking price. However, I recently brought up here the bullish activity in CHK as well, and still see great value at just a 12x trailing P/E, 10x forward P/E, .8x PEG, 1.2x P/B, and reasonable 1.4% secure dividend yield.
Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) provides scheduled air transportation for passengers and cargo in the United States and internationally. There was strong activity in the June 9 calls with almost 16,000 contracts changing hands and only 1,171 in open interest. This was bullish as they were bought at the asking price and looks like investors feel the American Airlines (AMR) bankruptcy is a plus for them. I like the valuations more at a 16x trailing P/E, and just 3.5x forward P/E, .2x P/S, .5x EV/S. Also costs are now well under control, with approximately $1.5B in FCF this past year. This is a decent call option to buy or stay bullish with and benefit from the high premiums by selling the June 6 puts instead at a nice $.40.
Toll Brothers (NYSE:TOL) engages in designing, building, marketing, and arranging finance for single-family detached and attached homes in luxury residential communities in the United States. There looks to have been a massive vertical call spread of the December 18 and December 20 as they each traded just over 11,000 contracts. Surely this is a bet that the earnings report coming out on December 6 will be favorable and keep TOL shares above $20. I can't comment on this with such a short timeframe and more importantly, it's anybody's guess as to how investors will react. Toll Brothers recently had strong options volume described here as well and I still think TOL and the other major residential homebuilders are facing big headwinds with the big supply glut and continual unemployment. I wouldn't partake in this trade.
CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), together with its subsidiaries, operates as an integrated communications company. There was bullish activity on the December 38 calls, trading over 4,000 contracts against only 171 in open interest. I think this makes for a great covered call trade as I described here.
Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) primarily develops, manufactures, distributes, and services vehicles and parts worldwide. There was strong activity in the June 4 puts, with 2,111 contracts changing hands. This looks to be an aggressive short, but I think Ford has good value at just a trailing 6x forward and trailing P/E, .3x P/S, .8x PEG and EV/S, and strong FCF this past year of over $7B. I'd look to go long Ford, if anything.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.