Huge Put Options Trading in Facebook Before Earnings

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Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is set to report earnings on Wednesday after the close. It turns out that some large investor must be worried about the stock dropping beyond a certain point, or at least that another large hedging transaction has been made.

A whopping 30,000 options traded in the January 2015 $45 Puts. Prior to Monday, the open interest for these options was a mere 20,029 contracts. In short, more options have been accumulated in the $45 PUTS in January 2015 in just one day than have been accumulated on a net basis in all the months that Facebook shares have been trading. Put options are purchased either to protect from downside or they are purchased as a bet that downside is coming.

To put this in perspective, it is not just a big options trade. It is massive. The buyer paid more than $8 million for the options. With the stock at nearly $61, a $45 strike price implies that a buyer is buying protection for a stop-loss from here of more than 26%.

What should really stand out here is that 30,000 contracts represents 3 million shares on a fully leveraged basis. That is the equivalent of hedging $183 million worth of stock at today’s levels.

Again, this is likely a hedge rather than a bet against Facebook. If not, someone expects that Facebook shares will be taking a serious tumble in the next nine months – and maybe around earnings this week.

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Shares of the social media leader were up 3.9% at $61.24 (unofficial closing price) going into the closing bell on Monday. Its 52-week trading range is $22.67 to $72.59 and the consensus price target was $74.06.