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Akamai Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKAM - 40.43) is following the broad markets into the red today, and bearish option players are taking notice. Roughly 11,000 puts have crossed the tape so far, representing almost nine times their average intraday pace. By comparison, just over 900 calls have changed hands.
Short-term skeptics have turned their attention to AKAM's front-month series of options, and are scooping up the stock's January 2013 37- and 39-strike puts. Of the collective 2,364 contracts that have crossed thus far, the majority have traded at the ask price, and implied volatility was last seen higher, suggesting that some of today's volume is of the buy-to-open variety.
By purchasing the out-of-the-money January 2013 37-strike put at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.14, traders will begin to profit with each step south of $36.86 (the strike minus the VWAP) AKAM takes through the close on Jan. 18, when the options expire. Meanwhile, the near-the-money January 2013 39-strike puts will become profitable should the stock breach the $38.58 mark (strike price less VWAP of $0.42) by front-month expiration. These breakeven levels represent a respective 8.8% and 4.6% dip below the stock's current perch.
Today's penchant for long puts is just more of the same for option traders, who have been scooping up bearish bets with some rapidity in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.85 ranks higher than 70% of similar readings taken in the past year. In other words, puts have been bought to open over calls at an accelerated clip during the last two weeks.
Technically, AKAM has had a solid run in recent months, with the stock up around 18.6% off its most recent low of $34.09, which it tagged on Nov. 27. Additionally, the equity hit a two-year high of $42.53 last Wednesday, Jan. 2. In light of this recent flexing of technical muscle, the uptick in put buying may simply represent shareholders protecting their portfolios against a near-term pullback.
As mentioned, the equity was trading around 0.8% lower in today's session, hovering near $40.43. However, today's pullback was stopped at the round-number $40 mark, which has served as a foothold for AKAM since mid-December.