Some mixed trading in bank shares today as big money placed diverging bets on some big banks:
WFC – Wells Fargo & Co. – Bearish traders lumbered around Wells Fargo today purging calls and feasting on out-of-the-money put options. Pessimistic positions were initiated during the trading session despite the 1.5% move up in shares of the underlying to $29.02. Investors piled into put options at the February $23 strike where roughly 23,000 contracts were purchased for an average premium of $0.13 apiece. Perhaps put buyers are merely securing cheap downside protection in case WFC’s shares fall off the proverbial cliff by expiration next month. Traders may be expecting a pull back in shares of the financial firm. If the puts were purchased as an outright bearish bet on the stock, investors long the contracts could turn profits by selling the puts before expiration next month if premium levels on the lots appreciate above $0.13. Medium-term pessimism was apparent in the April contract where traders shed 4,700 calls at the April $32 strike for an average premium of $0.66 each. Additional bearishness took place at the April $28 strike as investors picked up roughly 5,600 puts for $1.55 apiece. Pessimistic trading patterns suggest a bumpy start to the new year for Wells Fargo.
GS – Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. – Bullish activity in the February contract on investment banking firm, Goldman Sachs, suggests shares are poised to pop up in the next few weeks. Shares appreciated slightly during today’s session, rising 0.10% to $169.22 ahead of the closing bell. One optimistic options strategist purchased a debit spread to position for bullish movement in the price of the underlying. The trader bought 10,000 calls at the February $180 strike for a premium of $2.25 apiece, spread against the sale of 10,000 calls at the higher February $185 strike for $1.30 each. The investor shelled out a net $0.95 per contract on the trade. Goldman’s shares must gain approximately 7% from the current price in order for the call-spreader to breakeven at $180.95. Maximum potential profits of $4.05 per contract amass for the trader if GS shares jump 9.3% to $185 by expiration day in February.