Valero Energy Corp. (VLO)– Reports of takeover chatter fueled frenzied trading in Valero Energy Corp. options, with volume in VLO topping 83,000 contracts by 12:05 pm in New York. Shares in the producer of gasoline, jet fuel and other refined products surged 11.1% to $24.28 in early-afternoon trade. Call options are changing hands at a rate of more than three contracts to each single put option in play on the stock. November and December contracts are the most heavily trafficked thus far in the session, although options plays are present in each available expiry. While trading in Nov. and Dec. calls is mixed, there does appear to be a bullish bias to the transactions. Investors snapped up calls at the Nov. $24, $25, $26 and $27 strikes to position for continued bullish movement in the price of the underlying through expiration next month. The Nov. $25 strike call has generated the most volume, with more than 3,500 contracts having changed hands so far today. It appears buyers of the Nov. $25 strike call picked up more than 1,800 lots for an average premium of $0.99 each. Traders long the contracts may profit at expiration day if shares in VLO rally another 4.7% to surpass the average breakeven price of $25.99. Investors hoping to see sharp gains in the stock over the next few weeks purchased around 515 calls up at the Nov. $31 strike for an average premium of $0.09 each. Premium paid to get long the calls may be lost and gone forever in the event that shares are trading below those levels come expiration day in a few weeks time. Valero Energy Corp. is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings before the opening bell on November 1.
eBay, Inc. (EBAY)– Bearish activity in eBay, Inc. options this morning suggests one strategist may profit if shares in the provider of online marketplaces and secure payment services decline substantially within the next four weeks. Meanwhile, trading traffic in November contract call options may be the work of an investor throwing in the towel on hopes for a sharp near-term rally in the price of the underlying. Shares in EBAY slipped 2.75% to $30.80 by 11:30 am in New York. Volume in eBay's options is heaviest at the Nov. $29 strike, where it appears one trader purchased around 6,000 puts for an average premium of $0.45 each, against open interest of 1,933 contracts.