Bearish options showed some interesting volume in Altria yesterday as the cigarette company continued to push lower. More than 66,000 puts traded in the name, about 11 times more than average. That compares with fewer than 9,400 calls, so the bears were clearly running the show.

The July 19 contracts traded 43,603 times, mostly for $0.29 to $0.35, while the July 20 puts fetched $0.60 to $0.84 on volume of 12,362.

Atria shares

[MO 20.08 -0.24 (-1.18%)

fell 0.74 percent to $20.05 yesterday. The stock popped on April 21 after reporting strong earnings, but it was close to its highs from the time right before Lehman Brothers collapsed. It couldn’t break that resistance and has been drifting lower for the last three weeks.

Now it’s drawing close to its 200-day moving average and, judging by yesterday’s activity, some big money definitely thinks a test is possible.

Earlier in the session, rival Lorillard LO 73.71 -0.23 (-0.31%) climbed on takeover rumors but call sellers emerged to beat it lower.


Altria Competes With:

British American Tobacco BTI 63.28 -0.41 (-0.64%)

Reynolds American RAI 52.05 -0.44 (-0.84%)