Options Market Picks: 9 Highly Liquid Stocks With Bullish Options Sentiment

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Stock options are interesting because they can provide a glimpse into the future -- or at least what investors predict the future holds. Because options pay off at a future date from the time of purchase, stock option trends can indicate where investors expect stocks to move.

The two major stock options are call options and put options, and they represent optimism and pessimism respectively. Call options are the option to buy a stock at a future date and at a price set today -- calls become profitable when the stock rises, so buying a call indicates the investor expects the stock to rise.

Put options are the exact opposite. Whereas calls are the option to buy the stock, puts are the option to sell a stock in the future at a price fixed today. This becomes profitable if the stock falls over that time period, so investors buy puts when they become pessimistic on the stock's outlook.

The put/call ratio
The put/call ratio is the number of put options relative to the number of call options for a given stock. If there are more put options (a put/call ratio greater than 1), then there are more investors who think that the share price will decrease than there are investors who think that the share price will increase.

Simply put, a high put/call ratio reflects a bearish sentiment about a given stock while a low ratio reflects a bullish sentiment. For this article we focus on stocks with low put/call options.

Investing ideas
To demonstrate this idea, we screened for stocks for that are seeing significant decreases in their put/call ratios over the last 10 trading days, indicating bullish changes in sentiment from the options market.

To further refine the list, we screened for companies that have significant cash holdings relative to average quarterly operating expenses -- a sign of strong liquidity. All of the companies mentioned below have cash holdings that exceed 4 times the average quarterly operating expense.

In other words, besides experiencing bullish option sentiment, all of these companies could function for more than four quarters without generating any revenue.

Options traders are bullish on these highly liquid names -- do you agree? Use this list as a starting point for your own analysis. (Click here to access free, interactive tools to analyze these ideas.)

List compiled by Eben Esterhuizen, CFA:

1. Repros Therapeutics (NAS: RPRX) : Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.13 to 0.11 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $1.98M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $10.25M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 5.19.

2. VeriSign (NAS: VRSN) : Provides Internet infrastructure services to various networks worldwide. Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.77 to 0.29 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $110.47M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $1234.92M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 11.18.

3. Affymax, (NAS: AFFY) : Engages in the development of drugs for the treatment of serious and life-threatening conditions. Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.68 to 0.27 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $27.49M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $113.31M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 4.12.

4. Theravance (NAS: THRX) : Engages in the discovery, development, and commercialization of small molecule medicines for various therapeutic areas, including respiratory disease, bacterial infections, and central nervous system (CNS)/pain. Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.6 to 0.18 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $28.67M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $265.17M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 9.25.

5. InfoSpace (NAS: INSP) : Develops search tools and technologies that assist consumers with finding content and information on the Internet. Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.53 to 0.09 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $48.19M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $279.27M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 5.8.

6. MELA Sciences, (NAS: MELA) : Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.26 to 0.21 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $5M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $20.94M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 4.19.

7. Two Harbors Investment Corp. (NYS: TWO) : Operates as a real estate investment trust (REIT) that focuses on investing in, financing, and managing residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) and related investments. Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.51 to 0.39 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $9.05M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $409.95M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 45.31.

8. Thompson Creek Metals Company (NYS: TC) : Engages in mining, milling, processing, and marketing molybdenum products in the United States and Canada. Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 0.33 to 0.18 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $92.88M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $560.4M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 6.03.

9. Ansys, (NAS: ANSS) : Engages in the development and marketing of engineering simulation software and services used by engineers and designers in aerospace, automotive, manufacturing, electronics, biomedical, energy, and defense industries. Over the last two weeks, the stock's put/call ratio changed from 4.46 to 0.26 (bullish change). Average quarterly operating expense over the last five quarters at $98M, vs. most recent cash and short term investments at $406.88M, implies a Cash / Avg. Operating Expense ratio at 4.15.

Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.


Disclosure: Kapitall's Eben Esterhuizen and Rebecca Lipman do not own any of the shares mentioned above. Options data sourced from Schaeffer's, accounting data sourced from Google Finance.

At the time this article was published Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2011 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read Full Story

Want more news like this?

Sign up for Finance Report by AOL and get everything from business news to personal finance tips delivered directly to your inbox daily!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners