10 Stocks With Unusual Options Activity: MRNA, UAL, NKE And Others

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Moderna, Nike, Microsoft, Shopify and others made this week’s list of unusual options activity.

Many investors don’t pay attention to it, because options are too confusing and there can be multiple implications from a single data point. However, traders who are looking for opportunity often like to see their thesis line up with unusual options activity.

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Simply put, when large traders or big investors (like hedge funds and investment firms) make their moves, they can often leave their footprints behind. Those footprints show up in the form of outsized options activity in the underlying stocks.

With that in mind, let’s look at 10 stocks with some heavy call flow over the last week.

Unusual Options Activity: Moderna (MRNA)

Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) popped up toward the top of our list after an options trade that took place on Tuesday Dec. 6th. That’s as one trader bought just over $1 million worth of the January $200 calls.

The trade took place with Moderna stock trading near $170, while the options expired in 45 days. Further, traders were lighting up the January calls several hours later, dropping more than $1.5 million in premium in the process.

There was also a large buyer of the March $220 calls, with more than $600,000 in premium spent.

Nike (NKE)

Similarly, Nike (NYSE:NKE) had some unusual options activity as one trader sold $1.02 million worth of January $115 calls. With shares trading slightly out-of-the-money near $107 at the time, this was a bearish bet via call options.

United Airlines (UAL)

United Airlines (NASDAQ:UAL) was on the Top 10 leaderboard for weekly options flow, thanks in large part to the ~$1.4 million one trader spent on the January $46 calls.

This slightly out-the-money call had another $826,000 in premium trade within the same minute, meaning more than $2.2 million was likely committed to this trade.

Xpeng (XPEV)

With some new measures at Fintel, we can find unusual options trades that “indicate a premium size that is a significant deviation from the norm (ie, extraordinary large).” Xpeng (NYSE:XPEV) fits that description.

That’s as one trader sold over $800,000 worth of the April $15 calls, which were roughly $3.25 a share out-of-the-money at the time.

Just minutes before that, someone sold almost $150,000 worth of the December $13 calls too.

Carvana (CVNA)

Rumors are swirling about whether Carvana (NYSE:CVNA) can survive as a standalone company, but that’s not stopping traders from snapping up calls. In fact, it looks like they did so a bit prematurely.

On Dec. 6th, traders were peppering the short-term calls. That included buying $260,000 worth of the $6 calls expiring on Dec. 9th, more than $253,000 worth of the $7 calls of the same expiration, $184,000 worth of the $7 calls expiring on Dec. 16th and $180,000 worth of the $6.50 calls expiring on Dec. 9th. In all, more than $875,000 worth of premium.

Despite all the short-term call buying, shares plunged more than 40% on Dec. 7th. So keep that in mind when buying or selling options — don’t blindly follow unusual options activity. Instead, use it as part of your process.

VF Corp. (VFC)

Sitting at the top of our weekly flow leaderboard is VF Corp. (NYSE:VFC). That’s after a boatload of January 2024 $37.50 calls hits the tape on Dec. 6th.

Specifically, someone bought the out-the-money calls, spending just over $10 million in premium. This was a fairly large bullish call play that, at least upon first inspection, isn’t tied to any other spreads or trades.

Pinduoduo (PDD)

Just last week, Pinduoduo (NASDAQ:PDD) was making our list of unusual options activity because of some heavy bullish call flow. Now it’s making the list for the opposite reason.

On Dec. 6th, one trade in particular caught our attention as someone paid $2.17 million for the January 2024 $95 puts.

This in-the-money put position doesn’t expire for more than 400 days. At the same time, a ton of bearish call flow hit the tape on the same day, with roughly $700,000 in premium collected for selling various out-the-money calls expiring on Dec. 9th and Dec. 16th.

Lastly, one trader also sold $1.47 million worth of the January 2024 $120 calls, another bearish options bet.

Microsoft (MSFT)

Easily the largest company on this list, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) had some unusual options activity lately.

Specifically, one trader paid $1.93 million in premium for the $250 calls expiring on Dec. 23rd, while another paid $1.65 million in premium for the $250 calls expiring on Dec. 30th.

It’s worth noting that on Dec. 1, one trader put down $13.88 million for the deep-in-the-money January 2023 $320 puts and $12.9 million for the $300 puts of the same expiration. That looks like potental protection through year-end, if not an outright bearish bet.

Shopify (SHOP)

A favorite among growth investors, Shopify (NYSE:SHOP) has been crushed this year. However, at least one trader has doubts about the recent rally.

That’s as they paid $1.72 million for the in-the-money September 2023 $55 puts.

Metlife (MET)

Last but certainly not least is Metlife (NYSE:MET), which made all-time highs on Nov. 25th.

One trader is looking for short-term protection, buying $277,000 worth of the January 2023 $70 puts. Another is looking for long-term upside, buying $1.7 million worth of the January 2024 $77.5 calls.

Both options were just slightly out-of-the-money.

Article by Fintel