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Tractor Supply Company Traders Predict an Earnings Miss


Puts are popular on TSCO in today's session.

Option players are feverishly accumulating puts on Tractor Supply Company (NASDAQ:TSCO) today, as the farm equipment maker prepares to unveil its quarterly results after tomorrow's close. Around 3,000 puts crossed the tape as of 1:11 p.m. EST, representing nearly 21 times their average intraday volume. By comparison, roughly 800 calls have changed hands.

It appears option speculators are preparing for an earnings miss, and are scooping up the stock's February 95 put. The majority of the nearly 1,700 contracts traded have crossed at the ask price, implied volatility was last seen 12.1 percentage points higher, and only 170 contracts currently make up open interest here, pointing to buy-to-open activity.

By purchasing the in-the-money puts for a volume-weighted average price of (VWAP) of $4.06, traders need TSCO to fall 2.9% to land below $90.94 (strike price less VWAP) by the close on Friday, February 15, when front-month options expire. Should the stock fail to breach this breakeven rail, the most today's put buyers have risked is the initial premium paid.

Today's preference for puts is a change of pace for options players, who have been placing bullish bets with some rapidity of late. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open 459 calls for every 100 puts throughout the past 10 sessions. The resultant call/put volume ratio of 4.59 ranks above 92% of similar readings taken in the last year, suggesting calls have been scooped up over puts at a near annual-high clip in recent weeks.

Technically, the stock has been in a solid uptrend over the last two months, with the shares up almost 14% from their most recent low of $82.39, which was tagged on December 4. Highlighting this upward momentum has been the equity's 20-day moving average, which has ushered TSCO up the charts since mid-December.

Fundamentally, the company has had a strong showing in the earnings confessional, beating analysts' bottom-line expectations in each of the last four quarters. Wall Street is calling for a profit of $1.03 per share in TSCO's fourth quarter.

This article by Karee Venema was originally published on Schaeffer's Investment Research.

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