The ride for the financial stocks has accelerated to the downside over the past few weeks and some big names are trading near 52-week lows again. We all know that there are some trading opportunities that come with these names and we have played them both ways.

The option gains have ranged anywhere from 50%-100% and we have used both calls and puts. I’m not sure if it’s time to go long again but here’s what we’re watching:

Citigroup (C, $17.13, down $0.06) hit a high of $20.50 a week ago and is down 15%. The January 20 calls (CAD, $1.37, down $0.12) were profiled at $1.25 and sold at $2.60 the first time around. Let’s target an entry price of $1.25 again.

Merrill Lynch (MER, $23.65, down $0.15) has been good to us on the long side so far but it remains a question mark if we can go long again on this company. We made a 50% profit buying the January 35 calls (MERAG, $0.87, down $0.06) at $1.90 and got out in the $2.65-$2.75 range. There’s no way I’d get back into these particular calls but I’m feeling like Merrill has more skeletons in the clost. The January 25 calls (MOJAE, $3.55, down $0.05) look expensive to me and Merrill looks like it’s wants to go below $20.

A week ago, Fannie Mae (FNM, $5.02, down $0.98) was at $9 and Freddie Mac (FRE, $3.44, down $0.73) was at $6. These two have been the headline makers again and have dropped roughly 50% on renewed concerns of a government bailout. The option activity is insane for Fannie and Freddie and the jury is still out on wheather or not they survive. The Fannie May January 5 calls (NJWAA, $2.40, down $0.60) would be a monster trade if Fannie can get back to $10. The Freddie Mac January 5 calls (FREAA, $1.20, down $0.15) would double if Freddie trades up to $7.50. That is a big “if” for both of these trades.

Wachovia (WB, $13.99, down $0.31) is back below $15 and we made a 50% profit on the January 15 calls (WBAC, $3.00, down $0.30) at lower levels. Out of all of the financials, I like Wachovia the best and still think it will be the first to go as far as an acquisition target. If Wachovia can back to $20 these calls could double.

There are plenty more brand names out there to trade in the financials. Lehman Brothers (LEH, $12.60, down $0.47) looks cheap down at these levels. The January 20 calls (LYHAD, $1.40, down $0.15) look mouth-watering. I’d buy them here and try to sell them at $2.00 for a quick 40% profit.

Pick your entry points for these plays carefully and set stops early on any gains.

Rick Rouse
Rick@OptionsMentoring.com