Overstock Stock, Options Volume Soar on CEO Exit

Andrea Kramer

The shares of Overstock.com Inc (NASDAQ:OSTK) have catapulted higher today, after being halted earlier for news. Specifically, the e-commerce and blockchain concern announced that CEO Patrick Byrne is resigning, effective immediately. The exit comes just a week after Byrne said he was involved in a federal probe into Russia and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. In a letter to shareholders, Byrne said, "My Rabbi made me see that 'coming forward' meant telling the public (not just the government) the truth." At last check, OSTK stock is up 8.4% at $21.13, and call options are trading at a faster-than-usual clip.

Overstock shares are on pace for a fourth straight day in the black, and have rallied roughly 16% so far this week. After touching a year-to-date high of $26.46 earlier this month, OSTK pulled back, but found support at its 200-day moving average. Today, stock volume is pacing for the 99th percentile of its annual range.

OSTK stock chart aug 22

Prior to the announcement -- at 12:08 ET, to be exact -- Overstock had seen fewer than 3,000 calls and 1,300 puts exchanged. That marked weaker-than-average intraday volume. At last check, however, that volume has ramped up to roughly 19,000 calls -- nearly twice the normal intraday volume -- and 4,700 puts traded. Meanwhile, the equity's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has jumped to 119.2%, in the 92nd percentile of its annual range.

The weekly 8/23 22-, 23-, and 25-strike calls are the three most popular options today, with new positions being added at all three strikes. Buyers of the calls expect OSTK shares to topple the respective strikes by the close tomorrow, when the options expire.

Over the past two weeks, while absolute call volume has surpassed put volume on Overstock, options buyers have been upping the bearish ante. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.41 is in the 94th percentile of its annual range. This suggests OSTK traders have preferred long puts over calls by a much wider-than-usual margin over the past couple of weeks. An unwinding of pessimism in the options pits could further propel the security's bounce.