Bulls on the loose in energy patch: Options recap


This post is for education purposes only and should not be interpreted as a trade recommendation. Options trading may not be suitable for all investors.

Energy stocks have been on fire this month, and yesterday bulls piled into a beaten-down oil driller.

Upside options activity swelled in Devon Energy (DVN). Traders started amassing the October 40 calls for $2.12 less than an hour after the opening bell. They kept buying bigger chunks into early afternoon, mostly for $2.25. By the time it was all said and done, over 16,000 contracts had changed hands.

Calls fix the price where a security can be purchased, so they tend to appreciate when shares rally. Traders use them to leverage a rally, but they can also expire worthless the stock remains below the strike price. See our Knowledge Center for more.

DVN slid 1.14 percent to $35.69 yesterday, but the previous session it had its biggest gain in over a year — also amid heavy call volume. The company’s lagged the broader energy sector by a wide margin for the last year because of weak production. Management’s responded with planned asset sales, layoffs and share buybacks. This week’s options activity may reflect hopes that further news will be forthcoming.

Calls outnumbered puts by a bullish 8-to-1 ratio on Thursday. Almost 42,000 contracts changed hands in total — triple the monthly average.

Devon Energy (DVN)
Devon Energy (DVN) chart showing options volume.
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David Russell is VP of Market Intelligence at TradeStation Group. Drawing on nearly two decades of experience as a financial journalist and analyst, his background includes equities, emerging markets, fixed-income and derivatives. He previously worked at Bloomberg News, CNBC and E*TRADE Financial. Russell systematically reviews countless global financial headlines and indicators in search of broad tradable trends that present opportunities repeatedly over time. Customers can expect him to keep them appraised of sector leadership, relative strength and the big stories – especially those overlooked by other commentators. He’s also a big fan of generating leverage with options to limit capital at risk.