Today’s tickers: SFD, LTD, XLF, HNT, AIG, KEY, WMB & CSX
SFD Smithfield Foods, Inc. – Shares of the hog producer, pork processor, and beef processor have surged upwards by 6% to $10.50. Analysts in recent weeks used high feed prices and sluggish sales as reason enough to slash targets on food-producing companies, while there had also been concern on Smithfield’s ability to meet some forthcoming debt covenants. Corn prices have eased from $4.18 to $3.82 per bushel since the start of the month. Pork sales are also sensitive to the economy’s fortunes and sales have eased as consumers switch to cheaper grain-based foodstuffs and so perhaps today’s rally is based on expectations of a return to traditional consumption habits. Option investors crowded into the call-corral hoping that shares would continue to rise through expiration in June. The May 12.5 strike price had more than 7,200 calls purchased for 34 cents per contract while the June 12.5 strike witnessed some 2,300 calls coveted for 89 cents apiece. In order for these calls to land in-the-money, shares would need to continue to climb by another 19% from the current price. Option implied volatility has spiked to 102% from the value recorded at the start of the traded day of 77%.
LTD Limited Brands, Inc. – The specialty retailer of such brands as Victoria’s Secret and Henri Bendel has experienced a share price rally of 2% to stand at $10.88. LTD edged onto our ‘hot by options volume’ market scanner after one investor picked up a hefty chunk of puts in the August contract. Perhaps this bearish investor expects retailers to struggle through the summer months as consumers exchange their rally-caps for thrift-caps. This trader purchased 17,800 puts at the August 10 strike price for a premium of 1.25 per put option. It is possible that this trader is long the stock and is therefore utilizing the put options as downside protection should shares relapse over the next six months. The puts would begin to yield profits if shares were to decline by expiration, beginning at the breakeven share price of $8.75.
XLF Financial Select Sector SPDR – Shares of the financials ETF are slightly higher today by about 0.5% to $10.65. As usual, the fund was one of the top tickers on our ‘most active by options volume’ market scanner. One interesting trade we observed took place in the September contract. It appears that one investor…