Today’s tickers: EWZ, XLF, RVSN, MHK, COST, AKAM, & LLTC

EWZiShares MSCI Brazil Index ETF – Shares of the Brazil exchange-traded fund edged 0.5% lower to $72.55, perhaps inspiring the put spread we observed in the November contract. It appears one investor purchased 3,000 puts at the November 71 strike for 2.70 apiece, and simultaneously sold 3,000 puts at the lower November 65 strike for 1.00 each. The net cost of the put spread amounts to 1.70 per contract, thus yielding downside protection beneath the breakeven point at $69.30 through expiration next month. Longer-term activity seen in the December contract looks to be a covered call. It seems 25,000 calls were sold at the December 90 strike for an average premium of 13 pennies each. The investor responsible for the trade probably purchased an equivalent number of shares of the underlying stock at the time the calls were sold today. If this is the case, the investor reduced the cost of buying the shares to approximately $72.18 apiece by selling the call options. The short call position serves as an effective exit strategy for the investor if the fund trades above $90.00 by expiration. Shares of the ETF must rally 24% from the current price for the investor to have the underlying shares called away. If this occurs by expiration, the trader will enjoy the 24% gains on the rally in the stock, and walk away with no outstanding position in the fund.

XLF – Financial Select Sector SPDR – Fresh options activity in the March 2010 contract on the financials exchange-traded fund looks like a bearish risk reversal using deep in-the-money put options. Shares of the XLF have slipped 1.5% during the trading session to $15.13. It appears 5,500 calls were sold short at the March 19 strike for a premium of 30 pennies apiece to partially offset the cost of buying 5,500 puts at the same strike for 4.30 each. The net cost of the reversal amounts to 4.00 per contract. The breakeven point on the trade resides at $15.00. Thus, if the investor holds a long position in the underlying fund, downside protection is provided by the puts if shares slip more than 13 cents from the current price to breach the breakeven price of $15.00 by expiration next year.

RVSN – RADVision Ltd. – Telecommunications equipment designer and developer, RadVision, experienced a 1.75% decline in shares this afternoon to…
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