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Trader bets millions more on McDonald’s

McDonald's shares are jumping on Thursday, as news of a CEO switch encourages investors. And one trader is betting millions that the best is yet to come for the Golden Arches.

In Thursday morning's biggest single-stock options trade, one trader bought 37,174 March 95-strike calls for 91 cents per share, for a total outlay of $3.4 million (given that each options contract controls 100 shares of stock). Since a call gives its owner the right to buy a stock for a given price within a given time frame, this trade will only make money on expiration if McDonald's shares rise above $95.91, which would be about a 5 percent jump from Thursday's opening price.

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What makes the trade more interesting is that this isn't the first time this trader is betting big on McDonald's. At the same time the March calls were bought, 37,174 February 95-strike calls were sold, for 32 cents per share. Those calls were acquired just three weeks ago, for about $2 per share. And in fact, at the same time those calls were bought, the trader sold out of a large position in January 95-strike calls that were acquired in mid-December.

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This strategy is referred to as "rolling," and it is performed when a trader wants to (quite literally) buy more time in order for a position to play out. However, the strategy can be expensive, as this trader's experience shows. Both the January and February calls lost a great deal of value between the time the positions were initiated and the time they were exited.

Clearly the trader believes that this time will be different. And evidently, so do many McDonald's investors. After a flat year, the stock is rising sharply on Thursday, off of news that CEO Don Thompson will be succeeded by the company's chief brand officer, Steve Easterbrook.

Of course, whether this trader will finally get to enjoy a long-awaited profit remains to be seen.


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