AAPL is making headlines once again with its market-moving impact, its law-of-large-numbers-crushing daily moves, and its seeming cult of indifference among retail and hedge funds alike. As the stock price hits new all-time highs, we note that options prices are also breaking records with the complacency regarding any downside risk near post-2009 highs. The last three times we have been up at these levels has seen significant reversions in price: Nov 2010 -7.3% in 6 days, -12.68% in late July 2011, and a late Feb 2012 drop of 5.83% in 4 days.
Options-implied skewness measures the shift in the normal distribution that is required to fit with options prices. The skew 'shift' is the move left and right that increases or reduces the expectations of downside and upside stock movements. In the case of AAPL, its model-implied skewness has only been more skewed to 'no-downside' once since 2009. The higher the point on the chart above, the more complacent the options market has become and the more fuel for a sell-off has been stoked into the wall of worry - small doors, large crowds.