In this week’s unusual options activity, one stock stood out above all the rest.
And it’s probably the boldest contrarian play I’ve ever seen from my unusual options activity scanner.
Before I get to it, let’s set the scene…
We have the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly throughout the world, especially here in America…
Worries about another economic crisis is front and center in the media today. Even taking a backseat to inflation worries…
But the move by the Federal Reserve to focus more on inflation, instead of COVID-19, was good news for our economy.
And, contrary to the headlines, you can tell people are getting over their fear of the virus.
As you’re reading this, I’m on a plane home from my son’s hockey tournament in Nashville. The energy of the city was completely at odds with what we’re seeing in the news.
Restaurants, downtown, and hotels were all completely packed. Just crowds of people everywhere we went.
Yet, we still saw volatility last week due to worries about the virus once again.
Whenever this happens, we know the broad markets are getting whacked. But what is the big money doing behind the scenes?
Well, one stock saw over $8 million flow into it through the course of the week.
All $8 million was betting the stock will pop over the next seven months.
And it was on the last stock you’d expect in a time like this…
An Extremely Unusual Options Play
Online travel booking giant, Expedia Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE), was the beneficiary of this bullish love.
The travel company saw multiple large bets placed, all on the same strike and expiration — June 17, 2022 at the $170 strike price.
This doesn’t jive at all with the market weakness we’re seeing…
If worries about COVID-19 were going to have any impact on the economy, it would start with the travel stocks.
That was one of the hardest hit industries the first time around, with shares of EXPE dropping more than 60% when the world first shut down.
So with the world freaking out again about the virus, it doesn’t make much sense to see these huge bets on the stock.
$4.3 million last Monday. Another $1.1 million on Tuesday. And it capped off the week with an additional $2.6 million on Thursday.
Totaling more than $8 million.
I was blown away.
I mean, throwing a few hundred thousand on a winner-takes-all bet like this would have caught my attention…
But $8 million on a travel company over the next seven months amid rapidly rising COVID-19 cases… that takes guts.
Maybe that’s why they decided to buy the extra time.
Either way, clearly this high roller and I feel the same about the current market weakness — it’s set to pass.
It doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods yet. I’m sure this will be another volatile week heading into the Christmas holiday.
But I like how this trader bought some extra time on a bet they clearly have confidence in.
They can’t afford another economic lockdown. That would send all those millions down the drain. So they’re betting on the economy to not only stay open, but to thrive in the months ahead.
And that’s a bullish outlook I can get behind.
Just keep in mind, with all of these unusual options trades, these are some big money traders that can afford to throw $8 million around and not hurt too bad if it goes away.
Never trade with more than you can afford to lose and always do some of your own due diligence into the opportunities that pop up on my radar.
Chad Shoop, CMT
Editor, Quick Hit Profits
P.S. Veteran readers know that I’m watching a lot more in the markets than unusual options activity…
My Profit Radar, another major technique of mine, has been spotting bullish and bearish opportunities in the market all year long.
Last week was a perfect example. On the 14th, we closed out a bearish put options position on IWM for a 137% gain. And we immediately followed it up with a call position on SPY for a 127% gain just two days later.
When you can spot which indexes are set to move the fastest, no matter the direction, those are the kind of gains you can come to expect.
Now, you should know I just reopened access to this strategy for a short time. We’re days away from closing it down again.
So if these kinds of gains interest you, you should click here now to check it out while you still can.
Chart of the Day:
Travel Looks Ugly — Time to Buy?
In the spirit of Chad’s Unusual Options Activity today, I thought I’d look around and see what ETFs are available to trade on this theme.
The one we’re charting today, the ETFMG Travel Tech ETF (AWAY), holds a basket of familiar tech-aligned travel companies. Stocks like Airbnb, Uber, Tripadvisor, and, yes, Expedia.
The first thing I’ll point out, mostly because it’s funny, is that this ETF listed with probably the worst timing in market history. It started trading in mid-February 2020, right before the pandemic lockdowns. It lost more than 50% of its value just a week after launching. Then again, so did most of the market.
But that was then, and this is now. And if Omicron isn’t as deadly of an illness as many have reported, there’s little reason to lock down again with such severity.
Why, then, does this chart look so bad? Or, hold on… does it?
What I’m seeing is a potential falling wedge pattern with positive divergence on the RSI and a MACD that wants to cross bullish…
And the ETF is set to open near a fairly long-term support line in this morning’s trading.
It isn’t the cleanest wedge, that’s for sure. But the best contrarian plays rarely offer such obvious entries.
If you’re feeling as bold as the trader in today’s UOA, a small speculation on upside in this ETF could be a fun trade.
Managing Editor, True Options Masters