Wednesday, September 7, 2011

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

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


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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).

Potential Trades to Analyze
We have some funky strikes in Sep because of a special divi paid in May (I believe).

1. Calendar spread the upside
The Sep/Oct 36.25/36 call spread sells ~74 vol and purchases ~47 vol while keeping $0.25 on the upside b/c of the diagonal strikes.

2. Calendar spread the downside
Though not as pronounced, there is still a double digit vol diff to the downside between Sep and Oct.

3. Trade the upside in Sep
I guess this goes two ways -- (1) believe the news and get long, (2) don't believe the news and sell options. The Sep 41 calls are priced at 91 vol while even an "elevated" HV20 is at 53.35. Then again, collecting ~$0.40 may not be much consolation an a takeover for $50 (or w/e).

This is trade analysis, not a recommendation.

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