U.S. stock futures are headed higher this morning, pointing toward a positive open. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is on track to break its four-session losing streak, but corporate earnings have yet to play out.
In fact, Dow members The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE:KO) and United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX) release their quarterly reports today.
Against this backdrop, Dow Jones futures are up 0.63%, S&P 500 futures have gained 0.58% and Nasdaq-100 futures are higher by 0.55%.
Turning to the options pits, volume was exceedingly low on Monday. Only about 15.7 million calls and 13.6 million puts changed hands on the session. The CBOE single-session equity put/call volume ratio fell to a two-week low of 0.61. The 10-day moving average held at 0.63.
Leading Monday’s activity, Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) call options were active following another broadside from analysts at UBS. Elsewhere, Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) options activity was the lowest in years heading into tomorrow’s quarterly report. Finally, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is dealing with a collusion probe from the Justice Department ahead of earnings.
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Micron Technology, Inc. (MU)
Back on April 5, UBS initiated MU stock with a “sell” rating and a $35 price target. The initiation hit MU shares hard, sending them down more than 10% in the next two day. Yesterday, UBS reiterated its “sell” stance on MU stock, with predictable results.
MU stock dropped more than 3% to roughly $49. According to UBS, Micron could lose share in the DRAM and NAND markets in 2019 due to shifts in production and technology.
MU options traders favored calls in the midst of the decline. Volume was light, arriving at 277,000 contracts, or about 93% of MU’s daily average. But, calls made up 69% of all contracts traded.
There are signs that this renewed attention to MU call options may be bulls cutting their losses. Specifically, the May put/call open interest ratio has risen to 0.67 from last Thursday’s reading of 0.60. Rising pessimism amid weak price action is is a bearish signal for MU stock. Traders should keep a close eye on the situation.
Facebook, Inc. (FB)
Typically, stocks make the most active options listing for the popularity of their underlying options activity — its inherent in the filter after all. Facebook, however, managed to make the list while posting the lowest daily average volume I’ve seen since I began writing this column. And it did so with earnings on tap tomorrow.
Total options volume for Facebook stock came in at about 189,000 contracts yesterday, volume that would be impressive for other stocks. But this activity made up only 37% of FB’s daily average. In other words, Facebook options volume was typically higher two-thirds of the time in the past year.
Despite the low total, call volume made up an average 62% of yesterday’s take, arriving in-line with typical call activity for Facebook.
Facebook is expected to post a profit of $1.36 per share on revenue of $11.41 billion tomorrow. Those figures are up roughly 30% and 42%, respectively, year over year. EarningsWhispers.com puts the whisper number at $1.48 per share.
As for weekly April 27 options, implieds are pricing in a post-earnings move of about 6%. The upper bound lies at $175.75 and the lower at $156. Given that the April 27 put/call OI ratio has fallen from 0.66 last Wednesday to 0.53 today, it appears that FB options traders are betting on a post-earnings rally.
AT&T Inc. (T)
AT&T is set to report earnings after the close tomorrow. Analysts are expecting Wall Street is looking for an 18% jump in earnings to 88 cents per share and a 0.2% drop in revenue to $39.29 billion. That said, the Justice Department is casting a long shadow over the event.
We all know that AT&T is in a battle for approval of its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX). However, the company is now facing an investigation into potential collusion with Verizon Communications, Inc. (NYSE:VZ).
According to reports, the DOJ is looking at whether the two companies colluded on wireless-standards to make it harder for people to switch to new phone carriers. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) was among those who reportedly asked the DOJ to look into the issue.
The recent negative attention has had a chilling effect on T options. For instance, the April 27 put/call OI ratio has risen from 0.41 last Tuesday to today’s reading of 0.48. Calls dominated yesterday’s volume, making up 60% of the overall activity. This may be a sign that T options traders are ditching calls in favor of less exposure ahead of what could be a volatile earnings report.
As of this writing, Joseph Hargett held no positions on any of the aforemen