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Understanding Tortoise Acquisition's Unusual Options Activity

Benzinga Insights
·2 mins read

On Thursday, shares of Tortoise Acquisition (NYSE: SHLL) saw unusual options activity. After the option alert, the stock price moved down to $46.93.

  • Sentiment: BULLISH

  • Option Type: SWEEP

  • Trade Type: CALL

  • Expiration Date: 2020-10-16

  • Strike Price: $55.00

  • Volume: 242

  • Open Interest: 4050

Three Ways Options Activity Is ‘Unusual’

Extraordinarily large volume (compared to historical averages) is one indication of unusual options market activity. Volume refers to the total number of contracts traded over a given time period when discussing options market activity. The number of contracts that have been traded, but not yet closed by either counterparty, is called open interest. A contract cannot be considered closed until there exists both a buyer and seller for it.

Another indicator of unusual options activity is the trading of a contract with an expiration date in the distant future. Additional time until a contract expires generally increases the potential for it to grow its time value and reach its strike price. It is important to consider time value because it represents the difference between the strike price and the value of the underlying asset.

Contracts with a strike price far from the underlying price are also considered unusual because they are defined as being “out of the money”. This occurs when the underlying price is under the strike price on a call option, or above the strike price on a put option. These trades are made because the underlying asset value is expected to change dramatically in the future, and the buyer or seller can take advantage of a greater profit margin.

Understanding Sentiment

Options are “bullish” when a call is purchased at/near ask price or a put is sold at/near bid price. Options are “bearish” when a call is sold at/near bid price or a put is bought at/near ask price.

These observations are made without knowing the investor’s true intent by purchasing these options contracts. The activity is suggestive of these strategies, but an observer cannot be sure if a bettor is playing the contract outright or if the options bettor is hedging a large underlying position in common stock. For the latter case, bullish options activity may be less meaningful than the exposure a large investor has on their short position in common stock.

Using These Options Strategies

Unusual options activity is an advantageous strategy that may greatly reward an investor if they are highly skilled, but for the less experienced trader, it should remain as another tool to make an educated investment decision while taking other observations into account.

For more information to understand options alerts, visit https://pro.benzinga.help/en/articles/1769505-how-do-i-understand-options-alerts

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