Options Trade of the Day: Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Trader Bets on Support

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Gold futures were hammered again today, with the December contract down more than 2%, or $30.10, to close at $1,338.40. As a result, gold miners are getting punished as well, drumming up a steady wave of speculation in the options pits. Along those lines, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. ( FCX ) has seen put volume swell to nearly 32,000 contracts today, nearly tripling the stock's average daily put volume. The most active contract has been the November 95 put, where roughly 8,700 contracts have changed hands.

Despite the overall pessimism, a closer look at today's activity reveals that some of FCX's put traders may have more bullish designs. For instance, a block of 1,186 FCX November 95 puts traded at the bid price of $1.09, or $109 per contract, on the Chicago Board Options Exchange ( CBOE ) at about 10:31 a.m. At the same time, a block of 1,186 FCX November 85 puts crossed on the CBOE for the ask price of $0.19, or $19 per contract. Given this data, it would appear that we are looking at a short vertical put spread, more commonly known as a credit spread , on Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. This options strategy is also known as a short put spread, or a bull put spread.

FCX put option volume details

The Anatomy of a Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. Short Vertical Put Spread

Getting down to business, the trade breaks down like this: The trader pays $22,534 for 1,186 November 85 puts -- ($0.19 * 100) * 1,186 = $22,534. Meanwhile, the trader receives a credit of $129,274 for selling 1,186 November 95 puts -- ($1.09 * 100) * 1,186 = $129,274. As a result, the trader has pocketed a net credit of $106,740 -- $129,274 - $22,534 = $106,740. The breakdown for this credit spread is listed below:

FCX short vertical put spread breakdown

Breakeven for this trade is equal to the sold strike minus the credit received, or $94.10 -- $95 - $0.90 = $94.10. The maximum gain is equal to the total premium received -- $106,740 -- while the maximum loss is limited to the difference between the November 95 put and November 85 put, minus the net credit received, and is reached if FCX trades at or below the purchased November 85 strike. In this case, the maximum loss is $9.10, or $910 per pair of contracts -- (95 - 85) - $0.90 = $9.10. Below is a chart for a visual representation:

FCX short vertical put spread profit/loss chart

Implied Volatility

After the short vertical put spread has been established, increasing implied volatility is pretty much neutral to the overall position, as it lifts the value of both the sold option and the purchased option. At the time of the trade, implieds for the November 95 put arrived at 83.84%, while the implied volatility for the November 85 put rested at 53.91%. FCX's one-month historical volatility was 42.25%, as of the close of trading on Monday.



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This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: CBOE , FCX

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