Bears on board United Continental

Chris McKhann (
March 26, 2013

Someone thinks United Continental might be ready to come back to earth.

optionMONSTER's Depth Charge tracking program detected heavy put buying in the airline, with the biggest trade focusing on a spread in September. A block of 5,000 September 20 puts was bought for $0.42and the same number of the 15s were sold for $0.12. Volume was well above open interest at both strikes, indicating a new position was implemented.

The vertical spread cost the trader $0.30, which is the most he or she can lose if UAL remains above $20. The potential gain is $4.70, or 1,567 percent, on a drop to $15. See our Education Section for more on how to generate leverage using options.

UAL finished the day up 0.09 percent to $31.90. It's slightly below last week's $32.50 peak, the highest level since February 2008, and bottomed below $18 last summer. More than 21,000 UAL options traded on the day, twice the daily average. Puts outnumbered calls by a bearish 10-to-1 ratio.

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