Even though options trading may be a strong predictor of stock returns, researchers warn investors to be wary of “trying to profit from the unusual options activity regularly covered by CNBC’s ‘Fast Money.’” This according to a recent article in Institutional Investor.
In a June paper, co-authors George Jiang of Washington State University and Cuyler Strong of the SEC wrote, “Our findings suggest that the CNBC coverage of unusual option activity has a destabilizing effect on underlying stock prices and investors cannot profit by simply following the CNBC reporting on the ‘smart money.’ “
The study—which involved examining the ‘Unusual Option Activity’ data from the CNBC program for the period from January 2014 to December 2018—suggests that the CNBC program segment triggers an immediate reaction from investors and a subsequent spike in trading volume for those few stocks the commentators highlight as experiencing large option trades earlier in the day. The researchers tested “these predictions to see if retail investors really can follow these trades and make abnormal returns. We find that the trades that are covered on CNBC are not very unusual and thus do not produce abnormal returns.”
The study found that while the return for those stocks may see an uptick as trading volume spikes and even remain positive for a few days afterward, they subsequently turn negative.