How the bears are playing Campbell

optionMONSTER

Someone apparently thinks that 2013 may be an unlucky year for Campbell Soup.

optionMONSTER's Depth Charge monitoring program detected the purchase of 3,500 January 2014 30 puts for $1.10 and the sale of an equal number of January 2014 42 calls for $0.50. Volume was more than 17 times open interest at both strikes.

The trade cost $0.60 and represents a 13-month bearish bet against the slow-moving Camden, N.J.-based soup maker. If the stock falls, the puts will gain in value and the calls will diminish, while the opposite will happen to the upside.

The trader may be using the options to hedge a long position in the shares. Or it could be an outright downside bet.

CPB fell 0.63 percent to $36.47 yesterday but is up 12 percent in the last six months. Its all-time high in 2007 was around $42, so yesterday's trader could be targeting that level as a long-term peak where he or she would be willing to exit the name. (See the discussion of collar trades )

The transaction pushed total option volume in the name to 7 times greater than average, according to the Depth Charge.

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