Monday Options Brief: GNC, ATHN & MTW

Includes: ATHN, GNC, MTW
by: Interactive Brokers

GNC - GNC Holdings Inc. - Put options on the specialty retailer of health and wellness products are more active than usual today, with shares in GNC Holdings trading down more than 6.0% to $38.48 in the first half of the session. The stock jumped to a record high of $41.95 at the end of last week after GNC posted better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and raised its outlook for the full year. Despite today's pullback, shares in GNC Holdings, Inc. are up better than 30.0% this year. Trading traffic in June expiry puts this morning suggests one or more strategists are positioning for shares in GNC to continue to pull back off the April 27th high during the next couple of months. The bearish activity follows reports that the FDA sent letters to a number of firms marketing products with the ingredient DMAA (dimethylamylamine). The FDA said such products, available at GNC, Vitamin Shoppe and others, may potentially increase blood pressure in users. More than 4,400 puts changed hands at the June $36 strike against open interest of 352 positions, with the bulk of the volume purchased at $1.35 apiece. Put buyers may profit at expiration in June if shares in GNC drop 10.0% to breach the effective breakeven price of $34.65.

ATHN - athenahealth, Inc. - Shares in athenahealth are down for a second consecutive day in the wake of the company's first-quarter earnings report last week, with the stock today trading 1.4% lower at $72.48 as of 12:20 p.m. ET. ATHN shares have had a monster run to the upside in 2012, gaining 45.0% year-to-date, but one sizable options play on the stock today suggests the shares may take a break from hitting fresh all-time highs. It looks like one trader sold a 2,000-lot June $75/$85 call spread to pocket a net credit of $2.05 per contract. The strategist walks away with the full amount of premium received on the spread as long as shares in ATHN settle below $75.00 at June expiration. However, any substantial recovery in the price of the underlying between now and expiration day could result in losses above the effective breakeven price of $77.05, with maximum possible losses of $7.95 per contract in the event the stock soars 17.3% to $85.00 in the next eight weeks.

MTW - Manitowoc Company, Inc. - Bearish options are in play on industrial manufacturer, Manitowoc Company, as shares in the name slide 5.4% to $13.86, just a few short days ahead of the company's first-quarter earnings report on Thursday after the close. Put buying the in the front month suggests traders are prepping for the price of the underlying to potentially extend losses in the near term. The May $13 strike put options are the most active contracts on the name today, trading upwards of 3,100 times against open interest of 715 positions. It looks like the most of the put options were purchased at a premium of $0.50 apiece. Put buyers may be taking outright bearish positions on MTW heading into earnings or hedging long positions in the underlying shares. Profit, or downside protection, kicks in if shares in Manitowoc decline another 9.8% to breach the breakeven point at $12.50 by May expiration.