BP PLC & Total SA (BP) & (TOT) – Intriguing activity in call options covering Europe's second- and third-largest oil companies, BP and Total, carried over from Thursday's trading day to the final session of the week. Shares in both companies are up on the day, with BP gaining 1.8% to $42.07, and Total rising 1.1% to $52.36, by 12:35 pm EDT. Yesterday we noted one strategist's dispersion trade; selling calls on Total and buying calls on BP, in a position that seemed to suggest fruitful months ahead for BP and less-stellar share price performance at Total.
News out on BP today may support such bullish sentiment. The company was reportedly granted approval by U.S. regulators to once again engage in oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, its first such approval since the company's disastrous offshore spill in 2010. BP is slated to report its performance for the third quarter ahead of the opening bell on October 25, while Total reveals its numbers pre-market on October 28.
The call activity in both names this morning is almost identical to that observed on Thursday. It looks like the investor sold some 7,600 Total calls at the May 2012 $55 strike for a premium of $3.30 each, and purchased around 8,400 calls on BP at the April $44 strike for a premium of $2.89 apiece. The strategist walks away with the full amount of premium received for writing the TOT call options as long as shares in the French oil company fail to exceed $55.00 at expiration in May. Meanwhile, profits may be available on the long BP call options should shares in the name rally another 11.5% to surpass the effective breakeven price of $46.89 by expiration in April 2012. Options implied volatility readings on both stocks are down roughly 6.0% as of 12:50 pm in New York.
Chico's FAS, Inc. (CHS) – Bullish options players have taken a shine to the retailer of private-branded apparel and accessories today, with shares in the Fort Myers, Florida-based company rallying 2.25% to $12.35 on a risk-on day for U.S. equities. Investors positioning for Chico's shares to extend gains snapped up call options in the November contract. The most heavily populated option is the Nov.