Betting big on sweet returns in this junk food stock

Mondelez may soon bounce from its five-month lows if one trader is correct.

The most active options traded in the stock on Wednesday were June 35-strike calls that went for around $1.25. Roughly 2,000 contracts were bought at that strike price, meaning there was a $250,000 bet that Mondelez will gain nearly 6 percent by the start of the summer.

Overall, the stock saw two times its average daily options volume with 4 out of 5 being call options. Calls are a bullish bet giving the buyer the right to purchase a stock at a given price on a set date.

According to CNBC contributor Mike Khouw, the purchaser was most likely an institution.

"Someone was buying blocks of a couple hundred at a time electronically," said Khouw. "It's not likely that a retail customer would buy options blocks representing 25,000 shares at a clip."

Of course that wouldn't be the first time an institution has made a bullish bet on Mondelez. The most notable has been Nelson Peltz's Trian, which owns almost 3 percent of the stock.

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But the company has faced some headwinds as an attempt to push higher cocoa and milk prices on to consumers was met with lower sales in the last quarter. What's more, the rise of the greenback may make things harder in the months ahead.

"Foreign exchange will take a bite out of sales and profits this year, 11 percent and 31 cents per share, respectively," said Erin Lash, senior equity analyst at Morningstar, adding that shares are fairly valued at $35. Only 20 percent of the company's revenue comes from North America, and Lash sees emerging markets as nonetheless outpacing Mondelez's more mature markets.

Yet having Peltz sitting on Mondelez's board of directors may be a reason why an institution would take on a bullish trade using options even in the face of a stronger dollar, according to Khouw.

"If Peltz advocates returning cash more aggressively to shareholders via buyback financed with debt, the incremental leverage on the balance sheet will increase the volatility of the equity all else equal," said Khouw.

Since being rebranded after breaking from Kraft Foods in October 2012, Mondelez is up 25 percent, though is off by 12 percent from its November all-time highs.

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  • Melissa Lee

    Melissa Lee is the host of CNBC's “Fast Money” and “Options Action.”

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