Investors Buy High Volume of Ball Put Options (BLL)

Ball Co. (NYSE:BLL) was the target of unusually large options trading on Thursday. Stock traders bought 1,431 put options on the company. This represents an increase of 823% compared to the typical volume of 155 put options.

Shares of BLL stock opened at $57.27 on Friday. The company has a current ratio of 0.96, a quick ratio of 0.65 and a debt-to-equity ratio of 1.83. Ball has a one year low of $34.71 and a one year high of $57.39. The stock has a market cap of $18.93 billion, a PE ratio of 26.03, a P/E/G ratio of 3.94 and a beta of 0.82.

Ball (NYSE:BLL) last issued its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, January 31st. The industrial products company reported $0.55 EPS for the quarter, missing the consensus estimate of $0.56 by ($0.01). Ball had a return on equity of 20.08% and a net margin of 3.90%. The company had revenue of $2.80 billion for the quarter, compared to the consensus estimate of $2.68 billion. As a group, analysts anticipate that Ball will post 2.61 EPS for the current year.

Ball declared that its Board of Directors has approved a stock repurchase program on Wednesday, January 23rd that authorizes the company to buyback 50,000,000 outstanding shares. This buyback authorization authorizes the industrial products company to reacquire shares of its stock through open market purchases. Shares buyback programs are usually a sign that the company’s board believes its stock is undervalued.

The business also recently declared a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, March 15th. Stockholders of record on Friday, March 1st will be given a dividend of $0.10 per share. The ex-dividend date is Thursday, February 28th. This represents a $0.40 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.70%. Ball’s payout ratio is 18.18%.

A number of equities analysts have weighed in on BLL shares. Zacks Investment Research cut shares of Ball from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Thursday, January 3rd. ValuEngine raised shares of Ball from a “strong sell” rating to a “sell” rating in a research report on Thursday, December 13th. BMO Capital Markets upped their price objective on shares of Ball from $55.00 to $60.00 and gave the company an “outperform” rating in a research report on Wednesday, February 13th. They noted that the move was a valuation call. Citigroup decreased their price objective on shares of Ball from $55.00 to $52.00 and set a “buy” rating for the company in a research report on Monday, January 7th. Finally, KeyCorp reissued a “hold” rating on shares of Ball in a research report on Monday, January 7th. One research analyst has rated the stock with a sell rating, six have issued a hold rating and nine have issued a buy rating to the company’s stock. Ball presently has a consensus rating of “Buy” and an average price target of $53.08.

In other news, VP Nate C. Carey sold 1,900 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Monday, March 11th. The stock was sold at an average price of $55.59, for a total transaction of $105,621.00. Following the completion of the sale, the vice president now directly owns 16,336 shares in the company, valued at approximately $908,118.24. The transaction was disclosed in a legal filing with the SEC, which is available at this link. Also, Chairman John A. Hayes sold 91,701 shares of the company’s stock in a transaction on Wednesday, February 13th. The stock was sold at an average price of $55.20, for a total value of $5,061,895.20. Following the sale, the chairman now owns 467,844 shares of the company’s stock, valued at $25,824,988.80. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. Over the last 90 days, insiders have sold 128,299 shares of company stock valued at $7,039,095. Insiders own 2.70% of the company’s stock.

Several hedge funds have recently modified their holdings of BLL. Dodge & Cox bought a new position in shares of Ball during the third quarter worth about $155,286,000. Norges Bank bought a new position in shares of Ball during the fourth quarter worth about $137,213,000. Iridian Asset Management LLC CT lifted its position in shares of Ball by 3,245.4% during the fourth quarter. Iridian Asset Management LLC CT now owns 2,733,765 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $125,699,000 after purchasing an additional 2,652,049 shares during the last quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund lifted its position in shares of Ball by 4,406.0% during the fourth quarter. Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund now owns 1,720,250 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $37,000 after purchasing an additional 1,682,073 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. lifted its position in shares of Ball by 170.0% during the fourth quarter. Amundi Pioneer Asset Management Inc. now owns 1,981,488 shares of the industrial products company’s stock worth $91,109,000 after purchasing an additional 1,247,491 shares during the last quarter. 85.03% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors and hedge funds.

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About Ball

Ball Corp. provides metal packaging for beverages, foods and household products, and of aerospace and other technologies and services to commercial and governmental customers. It operates through the following business segments: Beverage Packaging, North and Central America; Beverage Packaging, South America; Beverage Packaging, Europe; Food and Aerosol Packaging; and Aerospace.

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