When buying a stock, I've found historically that looking at options volume is a great indicator for one simple reason: It provides 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 if a stock currently costs $20/share, but the call premium is only $1, this gives the investor 20-to-1 leverage. 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 7.
LDK Solar Co., Ltd. (LDK), together with its subsidiaries, engages in the design, development, manufacture, and marketing of photovoltaic products and development of power plant projects. There was predominately strong activity in the Dec 4.50 calls trading over 8,000 contracts against only 711 in open interest. The options slightly moved higher and sold at the bid price in what most looks like a covered call position. LDK has some good value at a trailing 6x P/E, .2x P/S, and .5x P/B, however, I believe these semiconductor names offer better value.
eBay Inc. (EBAY) provides online marketplaces for the sale of goods and services, as well as other online commerce, platforms, and online payment solutions to individuals and businesses. EBAY had strong options volume recently described here and there was predominately strong volume in the Apr 31 calls trading just over 4,300 contracts against only 859 in open interest and the Apr 31 puts having almost identical volume and open interest. This looks to be a straddle play, meaning the investor expects volatility in EBAY stock and that's for the most part a straight gamble, which I refrain from.
Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG) engages in the acquisition, exploration, exploitation, development, and production of natural gas and crude oil in the United States. There was very strong volume in the Jan 6.5 puts trading almost 6,800 contracts against just under 2,000 in open interest. The stock has moved up sharply of late, so I can see a short-term bearish trade while it trades at a lofty 3.7x P/B, 25x P/S, and no dividend yield. However, it has a reasonable 10x forward P/E and nice assets, which should do well as natural gas has to move up as crude oil keeps ascending. This is a decent trade for the experienced trader.
Apple Inc. (AAPL), together with subsidiaries, designs, manufactures, and markets mobile communication and media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players. There was particularly strong volume in the Dec. 390 calls trading over 17,000 contracts against only 4,395 in open interest. I wouldn't partake in trading this as with a timeframe in less than 10 days anything can happen. AAPL has a fantastic balance sheet, but for the long term, I'm a little skeptical as the passing of Steve Jobs will surely negatively affect this company he basically raised from the dead 13 years ago. I wouldn't partake in this trade.
Google Inc. (GOOG) maintains an index of Web sites and other online content for users, advertisers, and Google network members and other content providers. There was strong activity in the weekly ending Dec 620, trading approximately three times the open interest at 2,310 changing hands. This is definitely a gamble as these expire on Dec. 10, but long term GOOG has some solid value at a 21x trailing P/E, 14x forward P/E, .9x PEG, and a fantastic net cash position of approximately $35B. If interested, I'd look to buy the common stock or sell puts to build a position and take advantage of the high premiums.
LinkedIn Corporation (LNKD) operates an online professional network. There was strong volume in the Dec 72.5 puts trading 2,109 contracts against only 851 in open interest. While I'm not bullish on LNKD with its ultra-high 1,018x trailing P/E, 300x forward P/E, 127x EV/EBITDA, and 30x PEG, I think this is too short a time period to benefit from the eventually falling stock price. Instead, for the most experienced trader only, look to sell the Aug 80 calls at $12 and take advantage of the massive premium. I'd put a tight stop at $15 as this stock, just like any other, can run away, but I like the odds of that being profitable.
Yandex N.V (YNDX) operates an Internet search engine in Russia. I discussed about this company here before and there was massive options activity on the Dec 23 calls with 1,102 contracts changing hands against only 18 in open interest and being bought aggressively at the asking price. This looks to be strong optimism with the music integration deal with Facebook announced on Dec. 7, and the company looks technically due for a bounce, but this is too much of a gamble for me in such a short time frame that I'll stay away from this trade.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.