Options for the month of March are set to expire on March 18. The expiry date of options on a stock is important when deciding when to buy puts and when to buy calls on a stock.
Expiration-related trading activity on near-the-money options with a large open interest can impact the price of the underlying stocks. This activity typically increases the liquidity of the underlying stocks, and either dampens or exacerbates the price moves of the underlying, depending on how delta-hedgers are positioned.
During expiration week when the open interest of near-the-money options is high, delta hedging by market makers who are net long these options (long gamma) can force the underlying stock price to move toward the nearby strike (pinned strikes).
A stock is said to be pinned to the strike when its price closes near the strike price of the option as the expiration nears. This generally occurs when the market makers that are net long gamma via calls hedge their positions by buying the underlying when the price of the stock falls below the strike price and selling the underlying stock when it rises above it.
By contrast, when the market makers have a large net short position (short gamma) and there is high open interest in the name, the stock price tends to deviate away from the nearby strike, namely slippery strikes
"Regardless of whether market makers are long or short gamma, investors can take advantage of the increased liquidity in the stock since delta hedgers are likely to adjust their hedges frequently as the stock price moves," Susquehanna Financial analyst Souhow Yao wrote in a note to clients.
In addition, for investors who want to acquire a stock that could possibly be pinned, it may be a better strategy to purchase call options on the pinned strike late in the day on expiration Friday if the option premium, which is mostly intrinsic at that time, is less than the cost of acquiring the stock.
"We report stocks within the Russell 1000, S&P 500, and NASDAQ 100 universes that are likely to be impacted by pin-risk activity during the March options expiration," the analyst said.
Souhow said there are a large number of stocks that could potentially be impacted by this month's expiration activity. Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: IBKR), VistaPrint NV (NASDAQ: VPRT), O'Reilly Automotive, Inc. (NASDAQ: ORLY) are names that are likely to get pinned.
Meanwhile, Copart, Inc. (NASDAQ: CPRT), BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc. (NYSE: BJ) and Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE: FO) are among the names that are likely to have slippery strikes.