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October 9, 2012  Tue 1:38 AM CT

HCA Holdings slipped yesterday, and a three-way trade is looking for shares of the health-care company to fall further.

Total option volume in HCA was 32,822, compared to a daily average of 6,000 in the last month. Almost all of the action was in three large put prints.

First a trader bought 10,000 November 28 puts for $0.80 against open interest of more than 12,000. At the same time he or she sold 10,000 November 25 puts for the bid price of $0.25 against open interest of just 75, so it was clearly new activity. About 45 minutes later, 10,000 October 32 puts were sold for the bid price of $1.10 against open interest of more than 11,000.

So it appears that the trader closed that October put position, which expires at the end of next week, and opened a November put vertical spread. The strategy would be looking for HCA to drop to the $25 level, where the stock last traded on a closing basis at the start of June. (See our Education section)

HCA was down 2 percent yesterday to close a $31.32. Shares traded above $34 on Monday and Tuesday of last week, the first time they had been at that level since July 2011. The stock based at $24 in early June and at $26 in early August.
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