Chunky Put Play Hits Natural Gas ETF
Today’s tickers: UNG, QCOM, PXP, XRX, ALL, AMAT, MU & CMCSA UNG  - Shares of the natural gas exchange-traded fund are currently off by more than 1% to $11.80. One investor has picked up some serious downside protection on the fund today by purchasing a large chunk of put options in the April 2010 contract. We believe the trader is likely holding a long stock position in the UNG. It appears the trader purchased 31,000 puts at the April 9.0 strike for a premium of 75 cents per contract. The net cost of the put options amounts to $2,325,000. Shares of UNG would need to decline 30% from the current price before downside protection kicks in beneath the breakeven point at $8.25. Perhaps the put buyer expects the fund to reach a new 52-week low by expiration in April. The current 52-week low of $8.94 was attained on September 3, 2009. We note that it is always possible the trader is essentially shorting the stock and placing a large bearish bet on the ETF in order to profit from downward movement in the share price. – United States Natural Gas ETF – QCOM  - A tech-sector rally fueled by an analyst upgrade of Cisco Systems (CSCO) this morning helped boost shares of QCOM 2.5% during the trading session to $45.82. The manufacturer of wireless network products attracted optimistic option traders to the November contract. We observed plain-vanilla put selling at the November 42 strike where it appears 5,000 lots were sold short for an average premium of 92 cents apiece. Investors shorting the contracts will retain the full 92 cent premium as long as shares of QCOM remain higher than $42.00 through expiration. But, if the November 42 strike puts land in-the-money, investors short the contracts will have shares of the underlying put to them at $42.00 each. Finally, a sold strangle was initiated through the sale of 1,200 puts at the November 43 strike for 1.07 apiece, in combination with the sale of 1,200 calls at the higher November 50 strike for 81 pennies each. Investors ‘strangling’ QCOM receive a gross premium of 1.88. The full premium is retained by these individuals as long as the stock trades within the confines of the strike prices described through expiration in November. Traders face losses in the event that shares swing 13% higher to surpass the upper breakeven point at $51.88, or if shares decline…
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