Today's tickers: 

TSN - Tyson Foods, Inc. - The world's largest producer of meat corralled option bulls in its nearer-term contracts today amid a 0.5% increase in shares to $11.26. Perhaps call-buying investors observed on the stock today are optimistic that Tyson will report better-than-expected third-quarter earnings this coming Monday before the opening bell. The near-term August 12.5 strike price had more than 7,100 calls purchased for 25 cents apiece. Traders holding these contracts will begin to amass profits if shares rise at least 13% and breach the breakeven point at $12.75 by expiration. Bullish sentiment spread to the September 12.5 strike where an additional 1,500 calls were coveted for an average premium of 37 cents each. Investor uncertainty regarding TSN jumped ahead of Monday's earnings report as evidenced by the 43% surge in option implied volatility to the current reading of 70%.

SYMC - Symantec Corp. - The software maker has recovered some of the losses experienced during yesterday's trading session by rising nearly 2% today to $15.02. Shares plummeted yesterday after the firm reported first-quarter earnings of 34 cents per share, which failed to meet analysts' expectations. Options activity on the stock today suggests that some investors expect modest bullish movement in the price of the underlying over the next six months. Medium-term optimists utilized two different bullish strategies at the October 15 strike price. Some investors bought 3,100 calls at the October 15 strike price for an average premium of 1.00 per contract, while others chose to shed 2,000 puts at that strike for 95 cents apiece. Call-buyers are hoping shares can rally through $16.00 by expiration, whereas put-sellers will retain the full 95 cent premium as long as the stock remains higher than $15.00. Finally, traders who expect gradual gains targeted the January 2010 16 strike price to get long of 3,000 calls for 1.10 each. Shares must rally about 14% to $17.10 in order for investors to begin to profit by expiration next year.

EXM - Excel Maritime Carriers Limited - The owner and operator of dry bulk carriers has enjoyed a more than 2% rally during today's trading session to stand at $9.09. Bullish call buying was observed in the near-term August contract ahead of the firm's earnings report scheduled for release ahead of the morning bell on Wednesday. Approximately 3,800 calls were coveted at the August 11 strike price for an average premium of 26 cents apiece. Shares of EXM must surge 24% through the breakeven point at $11.26 in order for call-buyers to accumulate profits by expiration. Option implied volatility on the stock is higher at 92% today from yesterday's closing reading of 86%.

VIAB - Viacom, Inc. - Shares of the global entertainment company have slipped lower today by more than 1% to $23.41. Bearish investors, wary of potential continued downward movement in the stock, were seen scooping up protective put options in the near-term August contract. Approximately 12,000 puts were purchased at the August 22.5 strike price for an average premium of 49 cents apiece. Traders responsible for the put action may or may not hold long positions in the underlying. If they do not own the stock, profits will begin to amass given a 6% decline in shares to the breakeven point at $22.01 by expiration. Downside protection, in the case that investors are long the stock, will kick in beneath the same breakeven point described above.