Today’s tickers: MSFT, CMCSK, HIG, PNC, F, WFC, XLU & FXI
MSFT – Shares of the software company are currently higher by about 3% to $25.53, but options activity on the stock suggests investors are bracing for bearish movement in the price of the underlying through expiration in September. Traders may be feeling a bit nervous ahead of MSFT’s fourth-quarter earnings report, as the firm is expected to reveal that earnings declined to 36 cents from 46 cents in the same period last year. Investors acted on fears of potential declines in the stock by selling approximately 10,000 calls short at the September 26 strike price for a premium of 85 cents apiece in order to finance the purchase of some 10,000 puts at the September 25 strike for 1.11 per contract. The net cost of getting long protective put options amounts to 26 cents. Traders will begin to amass profits, or protect long positions in the underlying, if shares slip beneath the breakeven point to the downside at $24.74. – Microsoft Corp.
CMCSK – The provider of entertainment announced that it will be the first cable provider to offer full HBO On Demand service in high definition (HD) to its customers. Shares of CMCSK have rallied approximately 1% to $13.70 during today’s trading session. Comcast appeared on our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner after option traders took bullish stances on the firm in the near-term August contract. Hoping for continued upward movement in the stock, investors purchase about 8,900 calls at the August 15 strike price for an average premium of 22 cents apiece. In order for these individuals to amass profits by expiration, shares would need to surge at least 11% to surpass the breakeven point at $15.22. Option implied volatility edged slightly higher to 41% this afternoon from the opening reading of 38%. – Comcast Corp.
HIG – Frenzied call-buying by bullish option traders was apparent on the insurance and financial services firm today, amid a share price rally of more than 14% to $14.03. Call options were traded five times to each put option in action on the stock, as evidenced by the call-to-put ratio of more than 5-to-1. The near-term August 14 strike had about 5,200 in-the-money calls picked up for an average premium of 73 cents apiece. We note that now the same in-the-money calls tote an asking price of 1.25 each. The higher August 15 strike price attracted bullish…