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The shares of Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARUN - 13.08) are bucking the broad-market trend higher today, and it seems a few option bears are expecting the stock to continue its slide over the short term. Already today, the security has seen more than 8,600 puts change hands -- about five times its average intraday put volume, and more than double the number of ARUN calls traded.
Garnering the most attention has been the at-the-money August 13 put, which has seen close to 3,700 contracts exchanged on open interest of just 2,110, pointing to an influx of newly initiated positions. What's more, 80% of the puts have traded at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Considering the volume-weighted average price of the puts is $0.65, the buyers will profit if ARUN breaches the $12.35 level (strike minus premium paid) -- in annual-low territory -- within the next few weeks.
However, today's appetite for ARUN puts is just more of the same. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security has racked up a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.42 -- in the 93rd percentile of its annual range. In other words, option speculators have been scooping up puts over calls at a much faster-than-usual pace.
Echoing that pessimism, short interest jumped nearly 6% during the past month, and now accounts for 23% of ARUN's total available float. At the equity's average daily trading volume, it would take around eight sessions to buy back all of these bearish bets.
However, unlike options traders and short sellers, most analysts maintain an upbeat outlook on ARUN. Currently, the stock boasts 10 "strong buys" and two "buy" ratings, compared to six lukewarm "holds" and not a single "sell." Likewise, the consensus 12-month price target rests at $19.22, representing a premium of 43% to ARUN's closing price of $13.42 on Thursday.
Speaking of price targets... Analysts at Mizuho Securities this morning cut their price target on ARUN to $11 from $14, which has kept the shares from enjoying today's broad-market bounce. Now, the stock is trading near the low end of its recent range, with the $12.50 level providing a floor, and the $15 region emerging as a ceiling. Should more analysts follow Mizuho's lead, a wave of downbeat analyst attention could exacerbate ARUN's 52-week loss of 44%.