Bearish Plays Pile Up at Salix Pharmaceuticals
  Today’s tickers: SLXP, UTHR, XLB & XLE SLXP  - Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. –  Put options are popular at Salix Pharmaceuticals today with shares in the drug maker trading 2.5% lower on the session at $40.38 in early afternoon trade. A delta neutral transaction involving March contract put options tied to activity in SLXP shares indicates one strategist expects the price of the underlying to slip further in the next couple of months. Salix reports fourth-quarter earnings after the final bell on March 7, 2011. The options trader appears to have purchased 280,000 shares in the drug maker at $41.55 each, and purchased 10,000 puts at the March $37 strike for a premium of $2.80 apiece, on a 0.28 delta. The parameters of the transaction are such that the investor could make out well on the position given sufficient moves in the price of SLXP shares in either direction. The long stock leg of the trade will rise in value if shares reverse course and appreciate enough to at least cover the cost of buying the put options. But, it is the substantial stake in long puts that are likely to yield more substantial gains for the trader given continued bearish movement in the price of the stock. The value of the puts will grow quickly enough, under the appropriate circumstances, to more than offset losses realized on the declining value of the shares. The huge jump in demand for Salix put options helped lift the stock’s overall reading of options implied volatility 42.7% to 79.71% just before 1:00pm in New York. It looks like other pessimistic players are purchasing the March $35/$40 put spread for an average premium of $2.05 per contract. Investors initiating debit spreads make money if SLXP shares drop 6.0% from the current price of $40.38 to breach the average breakeven point on the downside at $37.95 by March expiration day. UTHR  - United Therapeutics Corp. –  The biotechnology firm popped up on our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner this morning due…
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