Wednesday, September 7, 2011

VeriSign (VRSN) - Rumors Push Vol, Skew, Stock and Vol Comps

This was originally posted on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 and is now a case study in a three part series on option skew. You can read parts one and two by clicking on the titles below (if you haven't read them, they're brief and useful).

As I've said before, if you trade options, you are trading volatility, whether you mean to or not.

Part1: Understanding Option Skew -- What it is and Why it Exists

Part2: Trading Option Skew

VRSN is trading $34.76, up 8.4% with IV30™ up 5.2%. The LIVEVOL® Pro Summary is below.

VeriSign, Inc. is a provider of Internet infrastructure services. It provides domain name registry services and infrastructure assurance services.

The stock has been popping of late on takeover spec. Here's a quick news snippet from written by Eric Savitz.

VeriSign shares are trading sharply higher for a second straight session after the company cancelled an appearance yesterday at a Citigroup technology conference.

ThinkEquity analyst Daniel Cummins reports in a research note that the company also cancelled a planned presentation at a technology conference his own firm is holding next week.

Cummins says he thinks the cancellations likely have more to do with the company’s CEO search than to potential M&A developments. He points out that the company since August has been run by Chairman and co-founder Jim Bidzos, who took over after former CEO Mark McLaughlin left to take the top job at Palo Alto Networks.

On the other hand, he also contends the company could make a good acquisition target.
Source: -- Update: VeriSign Rally Extends As Rumor Mill Heats Up

Well there you go. Takeover... Rumor... Again...

Let's turn to the Skew Tab and check out what is a very cool term structure and skew.

We can see a marked upside bid skew in Sep as the takeover rumors have pushed vol (and the stock) in the OTM calls. I've included the Skew Tab snap from 9-2-2011, below.

Awesome skew shape transformation. We can also see, when comparing the two time periods, how large a vol diff has opened up between the front month and the back two. Specifically, the Sep 36.25 calls are priced to 74 vol while the Oct 36 calls are priced to 47 vol. Said differently, Sep is 57% more expensive (in terms of vol) than Oct, and we're actually comparing a further OTM call in Sep.

Now we can turn to the Charts Tab (below). The top portion is the stock price, the bottom is the vol (IV30™ - red vs HV20 - blue vs HV180 - pink).

We can see the stock rise of late. On 9-2-2011, VRSN closed at $30.01. As of this writing, it's up nearly $5 or 16%. On the vol side we can see that the short-term historical has been trading above the implied for a few weeks -- starting with the stock drop in early Aug. The short-term implieds and historicals are all sort of converging at around 50 while the long-term realized trend is substantially lower. Specifically:

IV30™: 50.74
HV20: 53.35
HV10: 47.86
HV180: 27.19

Finally, let's look to the Options Tab (below).

As one example, see the Sep $36.25 strike calls are priced to 74.29% volatility while the Oct $36 strike calls are priced to 47.39% volatility (difference =  26.90 vol points).  That volatility difference is significantly larger than the that between the Sep $32.25 strike puts at 57.97% compared to the Oct $32 strike puts at 48.41% volatility (difference =  9.56 vol points).

The upside risk reflected by the option market is substantially higher in Sep than Oct... the effect of a takeover rumor.

This is trade analysis, not a recommendation.

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  1. Heavy call buying with heavy volume and prior volatility based on concocted rumor was sure sign to sell premium. because the next day after that spike the stock crashed.

    Now when normal insider activity is taking place it is held quiet so you dont seem much volatility or trading volume as is to be expected since its only a few whose interest is to keep from making waves for obvious reasons the try being sneaky.