Options Trader Scores Big on Diamond Foods Selloff

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange
Traders at the New York Stock Exchange

A trade made on the options in Diamond Foods around 10 am Wednesday potentially netted that investor $1.7 million or more after shares of the snack maker plunged on an accounting restatement revealed later that day.

Diamond, which makes Emerald nuts and Pop Secret popcorn, was down 41 percent at its low of $21.44 after saying yesterday evening that it would need to restate its results for the last two years due to mistakes made in the accounting of payments to walnut growers.

The move, a drop from its $36.66 closing price yesterday, could cause the company to lose out on its proposed purchase of Pringlespotato chips from Procter & Gamble.

Wednesday morning a trader purchased 1,500 deep out of the money puts expiring in March with a strike price of $30 for $2.65 per contract and at the same time, sold deep out of the money calls expiring in March with a strike price of $50 for $1.45 a piece, according to data snagged by TradeMonster co-founder Jon Najarian.

The rather astute (or tipped-off) trader paid a net $1.20 for the options spread or $180,000 total. At $21, that trade is worth $1.9 million, or a profit of more than tenfold.

“I suspect the SEC will be looking into who did this trade as the size indicates a possible informed buyer,” said Najarian, whose web site uses algorithms to sniff out unusual trades like these.

A put optionis a contract to sell a stock at a set price and time in the future. A call optionis a contract to buy a stock at a set price and time in the future. The trade described above is a combination of the two – a so-called spread – used to maximize profit in the event of a plunge in the stock.

The SEC declined to comment.

—With reporting by Eamon Javers.

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