Many investors brush off unusual options activity, but others like to “follow the flow.” When large investors — like hedge funds, for example — make big moves in the options world, it shows up in a very interesting way. We refer to this as “unusual options activity” and it serves as a way to see what the big investors are doing.
Luckily there’s a leaderboard of options activity for both calls and puts and it helps us track all of the outsized volume.
Fintel’s aslo got a leaderboard for ETFs, too.
With that in mind, let’s look at the stocks that stuck out the most on the call side and the put side this past week.
In the options world, it’s always a busy week for Tesla (US:TSLA) and last week is no different, particularly on March 9 when the electric vehicle-maker’s stock had a lot of heavy options flow.
Perhaps most prominent were the deep-in-the-money June $400 puts. On their own, this would create a big short position in the stock without shorting the stock outright. It came as one trader bought more than $53 million worth of premium in these puts. However, it appears to be tied to the sale of $9.6 million worth of the June $366.67 puts and likely part of a more complex spread.
Separately, just 20 minutes before the close that day, someone sold $4.1 million worth of the in-the-money $230 puts expiring on the following day, March 10 — a bullish options trade. Lastly, there was another bullish put sale, this time in the January $400 puts as someone sold $11.3 million worth of premium.
Home Depot (HD)
Leading retail stocks on the options leaderboard this week, Home Depot (US:HD) had several notable trades stand out.
On March 8, one trader bought $10 million worth of the January $390 puts, while selling more than $11 million worth of the January $380 puts. This was a complex spread, as the same trader or firm also sold $3.59 million worth of the $350 puts expiring in June.
That same day, there were huge put sellers in the March expiration. That includes $5 million worth of the $345 put, $11.7 million worth of the $340 put, $15 million worth of the $325 puts, $32 million worth of the $320 puts, $8 million worth of the $330 puts and finally, $5.3 million worth of the $325 puts.
In all, that totaled more than $77 million worth of in-the-money premium, with shares trading near $290 at the time of the trade.
Coming in at No. 3 on the options flow leaderboard was PayPal (US:PYPL). Again, this flow stood out as bullish put sales.
That’s after someone sold $9.8 million worth of the January $160 puts on March 7, while shares were trading near $75. In other words, these were deep-in-the-money. However, a day later more sales showed up. That’s as someone (likely the same trader) sold another $11.7 million worth of the same puts, then another $13.4 million.
One more trade stood out, as another trader sold $11.9 million worth of the September $130 puts.
It wouldn’t be a normal week if there wasn’t some notable flow in Apple (US:AAPL).
On March 9, one firm or trader sold $11.8 million worth of the at-the-money June $150 puts when shares were trading near $154.
The day before, someone scooped up $1.85 million worth of the May out-of-the-money $145 puts, likely indicating an outright bearish position.
Lastly, one more bearish trade stood out from March 7. That’s as one trader sold $10.2 million worth of the March 24th $150 calls. At the time, these calls were slightly in-the-money and it appears the trader is banking on a pullback in the stock.
I’m surprised Disney (US:DIS) was not at the top of this week’s options flow leaderboard given a few of the trades. The biggest one that sticks out?
The $51.1 million that was collected by one firm after selling the deep-in-the-money January $270 puts, while shares were trading near $99. This is a massive position. It’s not atypical to see seven-figure options trades from institutions. Eight-figure trades occasionally pass the trade desks on the indices or the bigger stocks.
But a trade in excess of $50 million? That is truly behemoth — but it’s not the only action we saw in this particular strike.
Another $51 million hit the tape at the same time, while the same firm bought $45.1 million of the January $260 puts and $42.7 million of the $160 puts.
A day later, more action could be seen in these strikes, albeit, with smaller size. It’s certainly part of a more complex spread given the size and the strike locations.
Goldman Sachs (GS)
It’s been an interesting week for the banks, so this trader may not be all that happy with their position in Goldman Sachs (US:GS).
On March 8, one trader sold $11.4 million worth of the March 17 $390 puts and $3.55 million worth of the March 17 $380 puts. Unless they had another position in which to spread these options, it appears to be a bullish in-the-money put sale.
These puts were also pretty active a week ago, but in that instance, it was someone getting long these puts (in other words, a bearish bet). From the data though, we can tell that the recent selling action in the $390 puts were sold to open. In other words, it was not the buyer from the previous week getting out.
Nvidia (US:NVDA) has been one of the top-performing large cap stocks so far in 2023, roaring ahead to boast massive gains. Through March 9, shares were up 60% year to date.
However, that day, several bearish trades really stood out.
Those include a $2.4 million purchase of the at-the-money September $240 puts and a $2.8 million sale of the March 31st $235 calls (which were slightly in-the-money).
A day earlier, one trader bought $1.1 million worth of the March 17 $230 puts, and on March 7, someone bought $1.6 million worth of the April $240 puts.
Of course, that’s not to say there hasn’t been some bullish options activity as well. Most notably, one firm scooped up $1.1 million of the April $250 calls — a relatively short-term bet for a further rally in the stock — while someone dropped $7.7 million in premium for the June 2025 deep-in-the-money $120 calls, which expire in more than two years!
This article originally appeared on Fintel
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