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Bulls writing up International Paper

David Russell (david.russell@optionmonster.com)

Bullish traders piled into International Paper again yesterday.

optionMONSTER's Heat Seeker tracking system detected the purchase of about 15,000 January 38 calls, most of which priced for $1.58. Roughly the same number of January 42 calls were sold at the same time for $0.46. Volume was more than 10 times open interest at both strikes, indicating that new positions were initiated.

Owning calls locks in the price where an investor has a right to buy a stock, while selling them obligates him or her to sell shares if they go above a certain level. In the case of yesterday's bullish call spread , the trader has the right to buy IP for $38 but must the stock for $42 if it goes that high by mid-January.

This spread cost $1.12 to open, which would translate into a profit of 257 percent if the paper company closes at or above $42 at expiration. That's less than 20 percent above yesterday's $36.16 closing price, which shows the kind of leverage that can be generated with options. (See our Education section)

Investors have already been making money in the name after paying just $0.80 for the October 35 calls in mid-September. Those premiums more than tripled to $2.39 by later in the month.

Overall option volume was quadruple the daily average, with this trade accounting for most of the activity. Calls outnumbered puts by a bullish 9-to-1 ratio, according to our data systems.

(A version of this post appeared on InsideOptions Pro yesterday.)

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