Stocks quoted in this article:
The shares of EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC - 24.15) have spent 2013 battling their descending 10-day moving average, and it looks like some option bears are finally cashing in their chips. During the course of Monday's session, the tech concern saw roughly 23,000 puts change hands -- more than double its average daily put volume. For comparison, just about 12,000 EMC calls crossed the tape.
Most popular was the in-the-money January 2013 25-strike put, which saw more than 10,000 contracts exchanged. Nearly all of the puts traded at the bid price, and open interest plummeted overnight, confirming our theory of sell-to-close activity. Or, in simpler terms, the put holders were liquidating their winning positions ahead of options expiration on Friday.
What's more, now is an opportune time for short-term traders to cash in. EMC's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) has ascended in recent weeks, and now stands at 27% -- above 38% of all other readings of the past year. In other words, EMC's front-month options are growing increasingly popular, resulting in higher premiums.
From a sentiment standpoint, short-term options players are more put-heavy than usual right now, even after yesterday's liquidations. The stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.11 registers in the 65th percentile of its annual range, implying that near-term traders have been more put-skewed just 35% of the time during the past year.
Technically speaking, EMC has underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by about 9 percentage points during the past three months. As alluded to earlier, the stock is struggling beneath its 10-day moving average, which has rejected EMC's advances since late December. However, the equity's pullbacks could be contained in the $23.50-$24 neighborhood, which has emerged as support in recent months.
In early trading, EMC has given up 0.2% to explore the $24.15 vicinity.