Speculative players have been taking sides on EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC), Ciena Corporation (NASDAQ:CIEN), and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), according to data from the major options exchanges. While EMC and CIEN have both attracted heavy call volume in recent weeks, IBM has become a favorite among put buyers. Here's a closer look at recent option activity on these three tech stocks.
EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC)
During the past five days, options traders on the International Securities Exchange (ISE) and Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) have bought to open 27,840 calls on EMC, compared to just 5,031 puts -- yielding a lopsided call/put volume ratio of 5.53.
Expanding the scope, EMC has racked up a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 3.91 on the ISE, CBOE, and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Not only does this ratio indicate that traders have bought to open nearly four times more bullish bets than bearish, it also arrives in the 74th percentile of its annual range. This suggests options players have purchased calls over puts at a faster pace only 26% of the time during the last year.
This trend toward calls is surprising, since EMC is down roughly 5% year-to-date to trade at $24.08 -- completely missing out on the broader market's rally. Nevertheless, in addition to the upbeat attitude among options traders, analysts have handed out 22 "buy" or better endorsements (out of 27 total recommendations). If the stock continues to underperform, EMC could be pressured even lower by a reversal of this widespread optimism.
Ciena Corporation (NASDAQ:CIEN)
CIEN has also drawn significant call volume in recent sessions, as evidenced by its five-day ISE/CBOE call/put ratio of 42.49. During this time frame, traders on these two exchanges have bought to open 6,119 calls, easily outpacing the 144 puts purchased.
Now, CIEN's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX call/put volume ratio of 13.76 is hovering in the 96th percentile of its annual range. This lofty percentile rank reveals that options traders have rarely shown a greater preference for calls over puts during the past year.
On the charts, CIEN has gained 39% over the past 52 weeks to trade at $15.93. However, resistance in the $17-$18 neighborhood is just overhead. This area has provided a technical ceiling for CIEN since July 2011.
International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM)
Meanwhile, put players have been taking aim at Dow component IBM. In the past five days, traders on the ISE and CBOE have bought to open 16,321 puts on Big Blue, along with only 7,754 calls. The corresponding put/call volume ratio of 2.10 highlights a clear bias toward bearish bets over bullish.
In fact, IBM's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.88 ranks higher than every other such reading taken over the past year -- pointing to annual-high levels of bearish speculation on the shares.
IBM has rebounded sharply from its earnings-related sell-off in mid-April, which sent the stock as far south as $187.68. Currently, the shares are trading at $207.86 -- up nearly 11% from that near-term low, but still south of its March highs near $216.
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