Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) Option Traders Unconfident

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Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) Option Traders Unconfident

Following the announcement that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) outperformed analysts’ expectations for its fiscal second quarter financial results, option traders are taking measures that indicate they believe the share price will fall in the future. This may surprise some given that the stock price climbed by less than 1% the day following the announcement.

BRK.B reported $64.4 billion in sales and $11.71 billion in net income, both of which above analysts’ estimates. Investors had maintained the share price range bound before to the announcement, with a considerable quantity of call options in open interest.

Option trading volumes show that traders have been buying calls and selling puts; however, option activity following results shows that traders are losing faith in BRK.B’s share price in the future. This is because the price movement has broken through resistance and moved to the top part of the volatility range, whilst option activity indicates that traders are selling calls and buying puts.

Key Takeaways

  • Following the results report, traders and investors purchased BRK.B shares, which increased less than 1%.
  • BRK.B’s share price finished substantially above its 20-day moving average.
  • Put and call option activity looks to be positioned for a decrease in the share price.
  • Support and resistance levels depending on volatility allow for a bigger move to the negative.
  • This structure allows traders to benefit from a reversal in the earnings-based share price growth.

Option trading is simply a gamble on the market’s probabilities—a bet made by traders who, on average, are more educated than most investors. Understanding the circumstances in which the price change occurred is critical to maximizing insight in option trading. The chart below depicts the price activity for BRK.B as of Aug. 9, indicating the setup after the earnings release.

Current Trends

With the exception of two days in mid-July, the stock’s one-month trend saw the share price maintain slightly above the 20-day moving average before finishing in the top third of the volatility range shown by the technical analyses on this chart.

The 20-day Keltner Channel indicators are used to create these studies. These are price levels that are multiples of the stock’s Average True Range (ATR). This array serves to illustrate how the price has climbed from the center to the higher third of this spectrum. This price movement in BRK.B shares suggests that investors have acquired confidence in BRK.B’s share price in the future.

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The Average True Range (ATR) has become a widely used technique for illustrating historical volatility over time. The average amount of time employed in its computation is 10 to 20 time periods, which comprises two to four weeks of everyday trading.

Based on the price trend for BRK.B closing above its 20-day moving average before gaining 1.9% the day before the results release, chartists may see that traders were optimistic heading into earnings. By paying attention to option trading data, chart watchers may generate an opinion on investor expectations. Prior to the report, it seemed that traders expected BRK.B shares to rise following results.


The Keltner Channel indicator shows a series of semi-parallel lines based on a 20-day simple moving average, as well as an upper and lower line. Because the higher lines are produced by adding a multiple of ATR to the average price and the lower lines are drawn by subtracting a multiple of ATR from the average price, this channel indicator is an ideal visualization tool for displaying historical volatility.

Trading Activity

Option traders’ recent behavior suggests that they believe BRK.B shares are overpriced and have purchased put options in the hope that the stock would close inside the box illustrated in the chart between now and Aug. 20, the next monthly expiry date for options. The price offered by put option sellers is shown by the red-framed box. It means that there is a 68% likelihood that BRK.B shares will finish inside this range or lower by August 20. As a result, sellers are just modestly bearish. Buyers, on the other hand, are picking up this pricing, implying that these choices are underpriced. Buyers seem to be ready to face such long odds, given that the pricing suggests just a 32% probability that prices would close below the box.

It is worth noting that open interest on August 9 contained over 300,000 call options vs over 199,000 put options, illustrating option traders’ bias, since over 60% of the options were calls. This usually means that option traders anticipate an increase in price fluctuation. The volatility has lessened considerably after reporting, although the amount of call options in open interest remains high.

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The call volume dominates the put volume for strikes at the money and one step either way, indicating that more traders anticipate BRK.B share prices will climb than those who believe share prices will fall. However, it should be observed that the implied volatility of this call option volume is decreasing, suggesting that call options are being sold more than bought while being traded in significant numbers.

A 10-day Keltner Channel analysis set at four times the ATR yielded the purple lines on the chart. This metric creates closely connected price action zones of strong support and resistance. These areas appear when the channel lines have made a noteworthy turn during the last three months.

The levels marked by the turns are noted in the chart below. What stands out in this chart is the discrepancy in call and put prices, with greater room to run to the downside. This shows that option purchasers are more confident that the price will fall in the weeks after the report. Although investors and option traders anticipated strong movement after the release, the share price rose less than it did following the last earnings announcement.

These support and resistance levels show a large range of support and resistance for prices. As a result, it is possible that there could be a large move in either direction in the near future. After the previous earnings announcement, BRK.B shares rose 1.54% in the day following and continued rising the following week. Investors may be expecting a dissimilar kind of move in price in the week after this announcement. With lots of room in the volatility range, share prices could rise or fall more than expected in the near term; however, there is more room in the volatility range to support a move to the downside.

Wrapping Up

Berkshire Hathaway beat analysts’ expectations for both earnings per share (EPS) and revenues. The share price rose less than 1% the day after the announcement and has risen to the upper third of the volatility range, closing above the 20-day moving average. Option traders appear to be selling calls and buying puts, which translates into a bearish sentiment. This activity provides more room in the volatility range for a downward move in the share price in the future.

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Option Trading Example

As a bet on market probabilities, unusual option activity can offer traders insight into investor sentiment toward the company and illustrate what “smart money” is doing with large volume orders. One way to capture the bearish sentiment reflected in the post-earnings activity of Berkshire Hathaway option traders would be to open a debit put spread.

A debit put spread, a sort of vertical spread, is an option strategy in which two put options with the same expiry date but different strike prices are bought and sold at the same time. Despite the transaction’s initial cost, this technique is predicated on the expectation that the stock’s price would decline, making the acquired put option more valuable in the future. In the best-case scenario, the share price of BRK.B falls to or below the strike price of the option sold. This would provide the most benefit while minimizing risk.

To catch the negative attitude, purchase the Sept. 10 $290 put for $8.10, with a breakeven price of $281.90. Selling the September 10 $280 put will result in a $2.42 credit, with a breakeven price of $277.58. The net deficit for this transaction is $5.68, or $568 per contract, after purchasing the $290 put and selling the $280 put. The trade’s breakeven point at expiry is $284.32 (data snapshot as of 3:59 EDT, 8/9/2021). The setup for this specific debit put spread is seen in the chart below.

No approach is risk-free. The total debit paid for the deal, or $568 per contract, is the maximum risk on this trade. When compared to buying a naked put option, the potential profit is limited since this method sells a put option with a lower strike than the one acquired. The greatest possible profit in this case is $432. This trade’s potential return on risk is computed as $432 / $568 = 76%.

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