Bulls creep back in to Tesla options after stock selloff
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bullish sentiment returned to Tesla Inc’s options on Wednesday, as the stock swung between gains and losses following a sharp three-day selloff.
Tesla’s shares fell 16% through Tuesday this week after Chief Executive Elon Musk took to Twitter here over the weekend to ask his followers if he should sell 10% of his stake in the company as Washington proposes to hike taxes for the super-wealthy. Nearly 58% said they would support such a sale.
Shares were recently up 3.6% on the day at $1,060.75, after dropping earlier in the session and briefly putting Tesla’s market value below $1 trillion.
Record buying of short-term bullish call options on Tesla in past weeks has helped fuel the stock’s recent swings, including a sharp rally in October that vaulted Tesla’s valuation above $1 trillion, analysts said.
The tumble in the stock swung options bets in Tesla toward the bearish side, with trading in puts surpassing trading in calls for the first time in about two weeks on Tuesday, according to data from options analytics firm Trade Alert.
Calls convey the right to buy shares at a fixed price in the future, while puts provide the right to sell the shares.
On Wednesday, upside bets were back in vogue with call options outnumbering puts by a ratio of 1.3-to-1. On Tuesday, only 0.8 calls traded for every put.
The rapid shifts by market participants likely reflects attempts to profit from the stock’s momentum, rather than fixed opinions on which way shares are heading over the long term, said Brian Overby, senior options analyst at Ally Invest.
“It is the speculative nature of the stock,” Overby said.
On Wednesday, call options that would pay out if the stock finished above $1,100 and $1,200 by Friday were two of the most heavily traded contracts.
While some of these may be closing trades with options expiry around the corner, overall sentiment on Wednesday leaned bullish, according to Trade Alert.
Tesla options accounted for about $109 billion in premium changing hands over the last two weeks, or about one in every three dollars traded in the U.S. listed options market, the bulk of it in bullish call contracts, according to a Reuters analysis of Trade Alert data.
Hedging activity from market makers, who may have taken the other side of at least a portion of these trades, was likely responsible for exacerbating the rally and the latest tumble in Tesla, according to a report from Vanda Research.
With the bulk of open Tesla call options set to expire this week and next, there is a “not negligible” risk that further options-driven selling will lead to a larger pullback for the stock, Vanda’s analysts wrote.
Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed in New York; Editing by Ira Iosebashvili and Matthew Lewis