CNBC Stock Blog

Option Bulls Go With the Flow in First Niagara

David Russell|Writer, OptionMonster

The bulls have discovered First Niagara Financial Group.

OptionMonster's real-time tracking systems on Friday detected a surge of call buying in the Buffalo-based regional lender, which trades for less than book value and has a dividend yield above 6 percent. Activity initially focused on the February 10 calls, where buyers snapped up 3,000 for $0.15 to $0.25.

Traders then shifted to the April 10s, with more than 3,700 getting purchased for $0.35 and $0.45. Volume was more than triple open interest in both strikes.

By the end of the session, more than 7,000 option contracts had traded in the name, which sees only about 130 in a typical session. Calls dominated the activity. Those calls lock in the value investors must pay for the shares, so they can double or triple from a relatively small move in the stock. They will also expire worthless if it fails to move.

First Niagara shares rose 1.74 percent to $9.62 percent and is up 14 percent in the last month as investors regain confidence in banks and financials. The company has also been raising capital and positioning itself for growth in New York and Connecticut after buying 195 locations from HSBC last year.

Its next earnings report is scheduled for Thursday morning.

—Russell has no positions in FNFG.

Additional News: First Niagara to Sell 27 Upstate New York Branches

Additional Views: Regional Banks Get Loan Pleasure, Durbin Pain

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David Russell is a reporter and writer for .