A pack of Marlboro brand cigarettes is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois.
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Tobacco giants Philip Morris and Altria confirmed on Tuesday they were in merger talks, making one or multiple traders millions of dollars, according to trader and CNBC contributor Jon Najarian.
Najarian highlighted unusual activity in Altria call options on Friday and Monday, with traders gobbling them up. Call options give traders the right to buy a stock at a specific price within a certain period of time. Buying call options translates into making a bullish bet on a specific stock or asset.
Najarian said someone bought 11,400 Altria calls for 65 cents each at the $49 strike price before the news broke. He added that 11,000 calls were bought at the $50 strike price for 30 cents per option. An additional 2,400 calls expiring on Sept. 27 were bought at the $47.50 strike for 98 cents each.
The $49 price strike calls shot up to $3.10 per option, bringing the trade’s returns to $3.534 million. The $50 strike calls surged to $3.22 per option and a return of $3.212 million. Meanwhile, the Sept. 27 $47.50 calls jumped to $5, leading to a profit of $964,000. In all, the trades generated a profit of $7.71 million, Najarian said.
However, the timing of these trades could get the trader — or traders — into trouble. “This is pretty bold stuff, as these buys [were] just hours ahead of a MASSIVE merger will certainly draw scrutiny from the regulators,” Najarian said in an email.
Najarian is the co-founder of Investitute.com, a site that tracks unusual options activity.
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Disclosure: Jon Najarian is a contributor on CNBC’s “Halftime Report. “