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The shares of Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL - 10.30) are trading in double-digit territory for the first time since late September, which likely has more than a few option traders smiling. Over the past two weeks, speculators have bought to open more than two DELL calls for every put on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). In fact, the stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.17 ranks in the 79th percentile of its annual range, pointing to a healthier-than-usual appetite for bullish bets recently.
In the front-month series, the 9 strike has grown increasingly popular, with nearly 7,000 calls added during the past couple of weeks. Nevertheless, the December 10 strike is still home to peak call open interest, with more than 14,000 calls outstanding. In the January series, meanwhile, the 10 strike has seen roughly 20,000 calls opened in the past 10 sessions. Call open interest now stands at just under 60,000 contracts, meaning the 10 strike is also the most popular among January-dated options.
Echoing that trend, DELL has already seen roughly 31,000 calls change hands so far today -- more than five times its average intraday call volume, and about three times the number of DELL puts exchanged. Fueling the accelerated call activity was an upgrade to "buy" from "sell" at Goldman Sachs, with the brokerage firm also lifting its price target on the stock to $13 from $9.
Despite outperforming the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than five percentage points during the past 20 sessions, most analysts remain wary of DELL. Specifically, just 10 of the 25 brokerage firms following the stock deem it worthy of a "buy" or better rating. Plus, the consensus 12-month price target on the equity rests at $11.68, representing expected upside of just 13.4% to DELL's current share price.
At last check, DELL has added 6.7% to flirt with the $10.30 level. As alluded to earlier, the security is on pace to end atop the $10 level for the first time in more than two months, and is set to conquer its 80-day moving average for the first time in about eight months.