A Vault for Valero Means Call Option Feeding-Frenzy as Expiration Nears
Today’s tickers: VLO, NTRI, EFA, BAX & WFC VLO  - We can explain in part the activity in the September 20 strike call options, which is due to expire at the weekend. That’s straight forward. It’s now in the money following a 9% share price gain to $20.97. Investors have possibly built up a substantial short position at the start of August in the expectation that share would remain below $20 as they have since they collapsed on June 2. Selling short the calls means they stand to retain the premium if the stock price remains south of the border. We see little news to set off today’s enthusiasm for Valero, but the rally that has put the calls into the money has the potential to spark a significant amount of short covering. Options open interest here is around 33,000 while today’s volume is at around 29,000. Expiration Friday tomorrow should be fun. – Valero Energy Corp. – NTRI  - The weight management products and services firm, which offers portion-controlled pre-packaged meals that can apparently satisfy ex-NFL quarterback Dan Marino’s appetite, edged onto our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner this morning. Shares of NTRI have surged more than 6% today to $15.84, inspiring bullish options action in the October contract. It appears some 3,200 calls were purchased at the October 17.5 strike for an average premium of 25 cents per contract. Investors will begin to accumulate profits if shares of the weight management company rally 12% higher to breach the breakeven point at $17.75 by expiration next month. The rise in demand for options on NTRI helped fuel the 24% burst in option implied volatility on the stock from an intra-day low of 41% to a high of 51%. – NutriSystem Inc. – EFA  - Shares of the exchange traded fund representing stocks from Europe, Australasia, and the Far East have come off slightly today to stand less than 0.25% lower at $55.78. Perhaps fearing further bearish movement in the stock, investors coveted approximately 25,000 puts at the October 53 strike for an average premium of 73 cents apiece. Traders picking up the put options may currently hold long positions in the underlying stock meaning a 6% decline for shares of the EFA would be protected by put option exposure and that would kick in beneath the breakeven price of $52.27. – iShares MSCI EAFE Index ETF – BAX  - “Swine Flu” vaccine-maker, Baxter International saw…
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