Upside option positions placed in the SPDR Consumer Staples Fund (XLP) soared Friday as investors’ worries over bond yields tapered.
On June 8, Investitute’s market scanners found that 15,000 August $52 calls, expiring on August 17, were purchased for $0.48 to $0.50 with shares at $50.73. These were clearly new positions, as open interest in the strike was only 325 contracts before the activity appeared.
Consumer staples generally trade inversely to the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury as opportunity costs for cash ebb and flow. These investors may have been illustrating their thoughts that the yields on U.S. Treasuries would not rise as quickly as expected, leading the XLP to recoup some of its year-to-date losses.
Those August $52 calls traded as high as $2.62 Friday, August 3, more than five times their initial purchase prices. The stock rose 5.47% in the same time frame, illustrating the kind of leverage that can be achieved with options.
The SPDR Consumer Staples Fund was up 1.17% to close at $54.29 on August 3. The yield on the U.S. 10-year note closed at 2.953%, flat from its level two months prior in June, prompting investors to buy consumer-staple stocks that offer relatively high dividends as an alternative to Treasuries.
Long calls lock in the price where investors can buy a stock, letting them position for a rally at limited cost with the potential for significant leverage. They carry less risk than owning shares because the most that can be lost is the price of the options no matter how far the stock might fall.