Many investors don’t pay attention to unusual options activity because options are too confusing and there can be multiple implications from a single data point. However, astute traders who are looking for opportunity often like to see their investment thesis line up with reality.
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 a half-dozen stocks with some heavy call flow over the last week.
Meta Platforms (META)
Meta Platforms (US:META) kicks off the week at the top of the list for unusual options activity. Some might think it was because of the call sales — a bearish bet — logged on May 17. That’s as one trader sold $5.56 million worth of the January $290 calls. Around the same time, someone also sold $1.1 million worth of next week’s $220 calls, which were in-the-money and expire on May 26.
However, the far-larger trade that grabbed our attention was a deep-in-the-money call buyer. That’s as someone scooped up some 48,000 contracts of the August $200 META stock calls. They paid $228 million for the position, which was about $40 in the money at the time of the trade.
Enphase Energy (ENPH)
The solar trade looked to be dead, but then it found some light following clarity from the US Treasury Department. It resulted in some interesting options activity in Enphase Energy (US:ENPH).
On May 17, someone sold $31.3 million worth of the deep-in-the-money $205 puts expiring on May 19. Later in the day, they sold another $30 million of the same puts.
In between that action, a trader sold $16.5 million worth of the $220 ENPR stock puts, which were even deeper in-the-money and also expired on Friday. Almost all of the unusual options activity in Enphase from this week, also expired this week.
Given its $2.36 trillion market cap, it’s not surprising to see Microsoft (US:MSFT) in the Number 3 spot for the unusual options activity leaderboard. There was sizeable action all week, particularly in this week’s monthly options expiration. However if we go out in time a bit, there were other notable trades.
Specifically, there was a flurry of activity for the deep-in-the-money MSFT stock puts expiring in January 2024. The action centered on sales in the $450 and $460 puts, with $48.5 million in premium being collected across six trades in the early afternoon. There were also some large trades in the $490 and $440 puts of the same expiration, with almost $28 million being paid out in premium across three trades.
In all, it looks to be a spread (or several spreads) across multiple strikes, while there was more flow in the same strikes later in the day.
Lastly, one trader sold $7.4 million of the August $310 calls and bought $4.5 million of the August $325 calls.
It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the drugmakers — particularly the Covid vaccine winners — but Moderna (US:MRNA) popped up on our options scan this week. Those bets heavily favored the long side.
That’s as almost $42 million worth of various in-the-money put sales hit the tape on May 17, all in the July expiration. It included one sale of $18.6 million for the July $190 puts. The July MRNA stock put sellers went back to work throughout the day, selling $18.9 million of the $190 puts, $5.4 million worth of the $200 puts and then $19.1 million of the $190 puts again later in the day.
Two days later, they were fairly active again, selling $7.2 million worth of the July $190 puts and $9.5 million of the $200 puts.
Nvidia (US:NVDA) has been the leader of the AI trade so far in 2023, so it’s not surprising to see the stock doing plenty of options volume.
On May 17, one trader took a deep-in-the-money bullish position, buying almost $45 million worth of the June 2024 $150 and $160 calls. A few hours later, someone bought $5.5 million of the June 2024 $400 calls.
Not everything was bullish, though. That’s as one trader bought $5.2 million worth of January 2024 $320 puts, which were only slightly in-the-money on May 18. On the same day, three big call sales — typically a bearish NVDA stock trade — took place.
They included $2.05 million worth of the June $340 calls, $2.48 million of the August $310 calls and $2.475 million of the September $310 calls. A day later, someone sold $5.15 million worth of the June $312.50 calls.
Qualcomm (US:QCOM) has not performed very well in 2023, down 15.3% over the last three months and almost hitting 52-week lows after a post-earnings sell off earlier this month. However, there was a wave of bullish options activity in the past week.
Plain and simple, the action came as someone sold $28 million worth of in-the-money put premium — a bullish position — that expired on Friday. The action was spread out between the $115, $120 and $125 puts. If it was a straight put sale (meaning there was no other position involved), then it was a way for someone to get assigned a rather large position in QCOM stock.
Otherwise, it could have been part of a more complex strategy.
This article originally appeared on Fintel
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