Friday’s Vital Data: Zynga, Activision Blizzard and Square

Options activity provides a look at expectations on SQ, ZNGA, ATVI

U.S. stock futures are trading higher on the heels of a robust jobs report. The U.S. economy added 263,000 jobs, handily beating the Street’s estimates for 190,000. With the new hiring boost, the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6%, the lowest reading since 1969.

At the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 0.59%, and the S&P 500 is down by 0.21%. Nasdaq-100 is up 0.69%.

In the options pits, digestion of the recent Fed meeting kept overall volumes well above average. Calls outpaced puts by a solid 4 million contracts. Specifically, about 21.5 million calls and 17.3 million puts changed hands on the session.

Meanwhile, over at the CBOE, the single-session equity put/call volume ratio rose to 0.64. Its recent climb is dragging the 10-day moving average higher, and it ended the session at 0.61.

Options traders zeroed in on earnings announcements yesterday. Today we’ll focus on three: Square (NYSE:SQ), ZNGA (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:ATVI)

Let’s take a closer look:

Zynga (ZNGA)

Zynga is coming back from the dead. Spurred by a significant earnings gap, ZNGA stock tagged a fresh six-year high at the open on Thursday. You’ll be forgiven if the social game developer fell off your radar ages ago when it was circling the drain. It’s been dead money until this year’s awakening.

The company’s latest earnings release is keeping its turnaround hopes alive. Revenue growth is what excited investors the most this quarter. Sales came in at $265.4 million, far surpassing the company’s estimates for $240 million.

This year’s uptrend should encourage bulls. Dips have been shallow and breakouts have scored followthrough. With the rising 20-day and 50-day moving averages, buyers are in full control of the short- and intermediate-term trends.

On the options trading front, traders came after calls with a vengeance. Activity rocketed to 687% of the average daily volume, with 112,797 total contracts traded. A whopping 88% of the trading came from call options alone.

Implied volatility is pricing in daily moves of 16 cents or 2.7%.

Activision Blizzard (ATVI)

Activision Blizzard reported earnings last night that failed to impress shareholders. Sellers promptly sent the stock down 4% where it sits ahead of the opening bell. For the first quarter, ATVI earned 78 cents per share on revenue of $1.83 billion.

The price trend for ATVI has stabilized in recent months creating a five-month base. Until it an bust through $50 resistance, however, the outlook remains neutral.

Ahead of the number, options trading rose dramatically with calls winning the popularity contest. Activity ballooned to 538% of the average daily volume, with 116,898 total contracts traded. Calls claimed 55% of the session’s sum.

According to option premiums, the expected move into earnings was $3.07 or 6.2%. That means this morning’s 4% drop is well within the forecasted gap. Volatility sellers should win the day.

Square (SQ)

Square shares took it on the chin Thursday following disappointing guidance during its earnings report. The stock tumbled 8% and took out critical intermediate support. With SQ now submerged beneath all major moving averages, its technical outlook is grim.

For the first quarter, the company saw revenues grow to $959.4 million easily beating analyst calls for $942.6 million. With the revenue boost, non-GAAP earnings per share came in at 11 cents, topping estimates of 8 cents. However, gross payment volumes missed estimates (22.6 billion versus 22.8 billion). Couple that with lukewarm guidance for the second quarter, and investors decided to lean on the sell button.

On the options trading front, calls led the charge despite the day’s drubbing. Activity swelled to 365% of the average daily volume, with 258,453 total contracts traded. Calls accounted for 59% of the tally.

Implied volatility suffered the usual post-announcement crush, falling to 42%. That places it at the 14th percentile of its one-year range. Premiums are now pricing in daily moves of $1.78 or 2.6%.

As of this writing, Tyler Craig didn’t hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. Check out his recently released Bear Market Survival Guide to learn how to defend your portfolio against market volatility.

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