On the long side, speculators at the ISE and CBOE have bought to open 4,670 puts on WAG during the past five sessions, compared to just 464 calls, resulting in a put/call volume ratio of 10.06.
As a point of comparison, the stock's 20-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio stands at 0.38, meaning roughly five calls have been bought to open for every two puts over the last month. In particular, a number of put buyers have targeted WAG's March 65 strike in recent sessions -- buying to open more than 1,700 contracts here since last Wednesday.
In other words, the stock needs to drop 2.5% from its current perch by the close on Friday, March 21, when front-month options expire, in order for these puts to move into the money.
Meanwhile, on the short side, traders at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX have sold to open 1.66 puts for each one they've purchased throughout the previous 50 sessions, and a large portion of these put writers have targeted the April 52.50 strike.
This deep out-of-the-money strike is the site of peak put open interest in the front three-months' series of options, and since Dec. 2, more than 2,200 short contracts have been initiated here.
By writing the puts, the speculators anticipate the $52.50 level -- home to WAG's 50-week moving average -- will hold as support through the close on Thursday, April 17, which is when the back-month options expire. In this best-case scenario, the puts will finish worthless, and the traders will retain the initial net credit as their full potential reward.
On the charts, WAG hasn't traded south of $52.50 since Sept. 12. In fact, since hitting its intraday low of $50.88 that day, the stock has tacked on more than 30%. In light of this upward momentum, the recent crop of put buyers may be initiating trades at out-of-the-money strikes to guard against a potential pullback.
Considering the equity's Relative Strength Index (RSI) of 71 is sitting in overbought territory, a near-term consolidation isn't out of the question. This scenario is playing itself out in today's session, with the shares off 0.5% at last check to trade at $66.64.
On the fundamental front, Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG) will release its February sales numbers one week from today. Additionally, the drugstore chain is slated to unveil its fiscal second-quarter earnings report before the market opens on Tuesday, March 25.