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February 19, 2013  Tue 3:47 AM CT

TJX: SEE CHART GET CHAIN FIND STRATEGIES
After years of alpha, one investor apparently thinks that the limelight is fading for TJX.

Riding a wave of frugality that swept the nation after the 2008 market crash, the discount retailer consistently outperformed the broader market between early 2009 and mid-2012. It more than quadrupled over that time, while the S&P 500 appreciated 56 percent. But in the last six months it's gone nowhere while other stocks have continued to advance.

Friday's big option trade is looking for that lackluster performance to continue. An investor sold about 28,000 March 45 calls for $1.05, while buying a similar number of February 45 calls for $0.25. Volume was below open interest in the February contracts, which suggests that an existing short position was rolled forward in time.

He or she apparently thinks TJX will remain at or below $45 and has likely been selling calls at that level to earn income while holding a long stock position. The trade was giant in size--pushing total option volume to 21 times greater than average--and marks a huge sentiment shift in a stock that once could do no wrong in the eyes of investors. (See our Education section)

Our proprietary researchLAB analysis tool shows a similar pattern in other discount retailers, which have badly lagged the S&P 500 over the last three months. At the same time, leadership has shifted to energy, financials and global equities.

TJX closed at $45.01 on Friday, down 0.44 percent.
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