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Thursday’s Vital Data: Micron, Tesla and Altaba

Joseph Hargett

U.S. stock futures are rallying this morning, led by automakers. The U.S. has reportedly offered the E.U. a deal to drop auto import tariffs if the E.U. eliminates duties on U.S. cars. However, the U.S. is still planning on levying $34 billion in tariffs on Chinese products this Friday. Beijing is expected to implement its own retaliatory tariffs the same day.

Heading into the open, futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average have gained 0.66%. Meanwhile, S&P 500 futures have added 0.68% and Nasdaq-100 futures have rallied 0.76%.

In options activity, volume was practically non-existent on Tuesday heading into the Fourth of July holiday. Only about 9.4 million calls and 8.6 million puts changed hands on the session. On the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume jumped to 0.67. The 10-day moving average ticked higher to 0.61.

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Those options traders that stuck around on Tuesday focused on major headlines. Micron (NASDAQ:MU) was one of those after China blocked the company’s sales due to a patent dispute. Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) options were also active as the stock had its worst trading day in three months. Finally, Altaba (NASDAQ:AABA) is still around and trying to buy back its shares, but is having little success.

Thursday’s Vital Options Data: Micron Technology, Tesla, and Altaba

Let’s take a closer look:

Micron (MU)

MU stock plunged more than 5.5% on Tuesday after a Chinese court blocked sales of certain memory chip products in China. The move comes after Taiwanese competitor United Microelectronics Corp. filed a patent infringement case. Chinese sales account for about half of Micron’s total revenue, according to FactSet data.

Micron options traders didn’t appear too concerned about the drop in MU stock. Volume on Tuesday came in at 256,000 contracts, with calls gobbling up 62% of the day’s take. That said, short-term traders remain cautious on MU stock.

The July put/call open interest ratio comes in at 0.83, with puts close to holding sway in the front month series. Currently, peak call and put OI for the July series lie at the overhead $60 strike.

Tesla (TSLA)

TSLA stock melted down on Tuesday, suffering it’s worst single-day loss in three months. Driving the meltdown were a series of concerns, including the sustainability of Tesla’s recent Model 3 production push and rumors the company skipped brake-and-roll tests.

Tesla issued a statement on the brake-and-roll tests, saying “Every car we build goes through rigorous quality checks and must meet exacting specifications, including brake tests.”

Options traders appeared to favor the bulls’ case following the plunge. Volume rose to 288,000 contracts, and calls made up 59% of the day’s take. It made little difference in the overall short-term outlook, however.

TSLA’s July put/call OI ratio rests at 1.18, with puts easily outnumbering calls among front-month options. Furthermore, peak put OI rests at the $250 strike, indicating that traders are fearful of additional declines in TSLA stock.

Altaba (AABA)

Remember Yahoo!? While most of the company was sold to Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), there is still a part that holds a couple billion in cash, a minor stake in Yahoo! Japan and about an 15% stake in Alibaba (NYSE:BABA). That zombie company is Altaba, and they are having very little success in buying back their own stock.

Last month, the holding company offered to buy back a quarter of its outstanding shares for a slight premium. The deal was set to expire July 11. On Monday, Altaba extended that deadline as only 156,676 shares had been tendered.

The extension offer sparked interest from options traders, who chimed in with volume of 208,000 contracts. This activity was split down the middle in terms of calls and puts.

Judging from the activity details on Trade-Alert.com, AABA options traders have taken up calendar spreads at the August $100 put and July $100 call strikes to take advantage of shifting volatility due to the extended deadline.

As of this writing, Joseph Hargett did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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