Thursday, April 12, 2007

Nucor (NUE), VIX and Commerce (CBH)

I've been spending the day tinkering around with a new options screener that I've had put together. One of the interesting stocks that's come up is Nucor (NUE) and the May 65 puts. Almost 12,000 have traded against open interest of only 451 contracts. I'm not saying I'm jumping in, but this is something that I'm going to keep an eye on. There is no similarly heavy volume on the call side or in other put strikes. NUE has certainly had a nice run.

My screener also shows that some folks are loading up on the May 19 VIX calls today. Almost 16,000 of them have traded on open interest of only 307. That's a bullish bet that the VIX presently at just under 13 will surge before expiration in May, which is effectively a bearish outlook on the stock market since a rising VIX accompanies a falling market.

One other one that pops up is Commerce Bancorp (CBH). April 30 put volume nearing 3,000 or twice yesterday's open interest. Overall put volume is ahead of call volume by a margin of 2 to 1 today. CBH posts earnings on the 18th and a big issue for them has been the inverted yield curve which hurts them on deposit rates. I personally like their banks, but was sitting at the desk of a bank employee doing a wire employee when I overheard a a customer berating another customers service rep for the low deposit rate he was receiving. The April 30 puts expire next Friday only a few days after CBH release earnings; so these players are cutting it very close.

My screener still requires further fine tuning as it is picking up all kinds of stuff (eg: someone apparently purchased over $7 mln worth of June 42-1/2 NRG calls, with the stock trading at $77.19 which may be nothing more than some sort of stock substitue play). Volume in the rest of the November NRG calls is 85 contracts. So more filtering in my screener is needed.

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