Unusual Options Activity: Freeport McMoRan (FCX)

At-the-money puts suggest potential decline.

The December 20th $10 put options on Freeport McMoRan (FCX) saw over 8,100 contracts trade, a 57-fold increase over the prior open interest of 143 contracts.

With 84 days left to go, and with shares right at $10.00, the option should increase in value with any dollar-for-dollar drop in shares. With the option trading around $0.80, shares would need to only drop to $9.20 for the option holder to start making money on the trade.

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  • Freeport McMoRan has seen shares trade as high as $14 and as low as $8.50 in the past year. At the low, the option holder would see their options trade around $1.50 at expiration, nearly a double.

    Action to take: Given the volatility in the copper space thanks to multi-year lows for the metal, there are plenty of ways to play this company. Investors may want to consider buying shares under $10, and selling an $11 or $12 call option a few months out to offset some of the volatility. Traders who think copper is going higher could buy a call option, such as the June 2020 $10 call.

    For a bearish bet, the December trade is a play on a market selloff or surge in trade war fears before the end of the year. We prefer the June $10 puts instead, which have more time for a selloff in shares to play out.