Google Earnings Miss Gives Bullish Options Traders 99% Loss

Google Inc. options traders who made bullish bets before the company’s quarterly report yesterday suffered the U.S. derivatives market’s biggest losses today after the search-engine operator missed analysts’ projections.

Google calls posted 10 of the 12 biggest declines among all contracts traded on U.S. exchanges as of 4 p.m. New York time, with each tumbling more than 99 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Shares of the Mountain View, California-based company tumbled 8.4 percent, the most since December 2008. January $595 calls, which expire today, retreated 99.98 percent for the biggest drop.

“Google is a one-day play because it’s expiration the next day, which is why it’s so hard to play on earnings,” said Andrew Keene, an independent trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. “There’s no time for a trade to work out,” he said. “It’s either worth something or it’s not.”

Options traders had boosted Google bullish bets at the fastest pace in almost 10 months on speculation that the company would report record earnings yesterday. That optimism backfired when Google missed analysts’ sales and profit estimates, dragged down by the European crisis and a push into mobile technology, which yields lower ad revenue.

Google reported fourth-quarter sales, excluding revenue passed on to partner sites, of $8.13 billion, falling short of the $8.41 billion average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Profit before certain costs was $9.50 a share, missing the $10.50 analyst forecast. Google had beaten earnings-per-share predictions in 11 of its prior 13 quarters.

Put Buying

Investors who bought Google puts yesterday to protect against a decline in the shares made money today. January $610 puts rallied 407 percent to $24.40 from $4.81 yesterday for the largest gain among all Google options. January $605 puts had the second-biggest gain, rising 365 percent to $19.47.

Google call-option volume was 150,556 contracts, less than trading in bearish bets, or puts, which was 169,301. Trading volume in Google call contracts rose to a two-month high yesterday as almost 130,000 contracts changed hands. Call options give the right to buy a security for a certain amount, called the strike price, by a given date. Puts convey the right to sell.


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