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Call Volume Soars as Skechers Stock Gaps Higher

Karee Venema

Skechers USA Inc (NYSE:SKX) has gapped into annual-high territory today, after the shoemaker's earnings reports sparked a round of bullish brokerage notes. The optimism has spread to the options pits, too, where it looks like some day traders are betting on even bigger gains through tonight's close.

Taking a quick step back, Skechers said its second-quarter profit arrived at a higher-than-anticipated 49 cents per share, while revenue of $1.25 billion also exceeded the consensus estimate. Additionally, same-store sales surged 4.9% over the three-month period, and international sales jumped 19.8%.

In reaction, Wedbush raised its SKX rating to "outperform" from "neutral," and joined seven other brokerages in boosting their price targets on the stock. UBS set the highest bar, raising its target price by $12 to $50, territory not seen since August 2015.

Meanwhile, nearly 18,000 calls have changed hands on Skechers so far, 20 times what's typically seen at this point, and triple the number of puts traded. While some traders appear to be selling to close their July 37 calls ahead of tonight's expiration, others may be purchasing new positions at the July 41 call for a volume-weighted average price of $0.27. If this is the case, breakeven for the call buyers at 4 p.m. ET today is $41.27 (strike plus premium paid).

This bullish bias is nothing new for SKX options traders. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 3.81 ranks in the 85th annual percentile, meaning calls have been bought to open over puts at a quicker-than-usual clip.

Outside of the options pits, though, short sellers have been in cover mode, with short interest down 7.8% in the most recent reporting period. The 9.26 million shares still sold short represents a healthy 7% of SKX stock's available float, or 5 times the average daily pace of trading. As such, it's possible today's upside is being strengthened by continued short covering.

At last check, SKX shares were up 13.1% to trade at $39.39 -- headed toward their best day since Feb. 8 -- earlier topping out at a 15-month high of $40.50. The stock is now up 44% from its late-May lows below $28, and is boasting a 73% year-to-date gain.

skx stock daily price chart on july 19