Trade bets on gains in oil drillers


Oil drillers have been pulling ahead of the broader market in the last month, and one investor is positioning for more upside.

optionMONSTER's tracking systems detected a large transaction in the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Exploration & Production ( XOP ) exchange-traded fund. A block of 4,000 December 43 calls was purchased for $2.61 against existing open interest. At the same time an equal number of March 45 calls was sold for $2.69 in a new opening trade.

XOP The transaction resulted in a net credit of $0.08, and was probably the work of an investor who owns XOP shares and is selling the calls against them. The strategy, known as a covered call or buy/write, generates income to reduce the cost of owning the shares. (See our Education section)

In return, the trader agreed to sell the stock at a given price, surrendering gains above that level. The position lets the investor boost the exit price by $2 in return for holding XOP for an additional three months.

The fund rose 0.59 percent to $44.07 in midday trading and is up 7.12 percent in the last month--almost twice the gain of the S&P 500 during the same time. That marks a contrast over most of 2010, when the XOP either tracked or lagged the broader market.

Despite claiming to represent the exploration and production sectors, the XOP's largest holdings are refiners such as Sunoco, Holly, Valero, and Tesoro.

The call roll pushed total option volume in XOP to triple the daily average so far today.

(Chart courtesy of tradeMONSTER)

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 OptionMonster® Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

This article appears in: Investing , Options

Referenced Stocks: HOC , TSO , VLO , XOP



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