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The shares of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (ATVI) ticked higher on Wednesday, after industry tracker NPD said retail sales of videogame software rose 6% to $605 million in October, exceeding analysts' expectations and bolstering hope ahead of the holiday season. What's more, Activision this morning said its Call of Duty: Black Ops game grossed more than $650 million worldwide in the five days following its debut – a new industry record.
While the shares of ATVI have tacked on roughly 3% since the start of the month, it appears many options speculators are betting on even more upward trajectory over the short-to-intermediate term. By yesterday's closing bell, the security had seen roughly 16,000 calls cross the tape – more than tripling its expected single-session call volume, and about 18 times the number of ATVI puts exchanged.
The December 13 and January 12.50 calls garnered the bulk of the attention, with more than 3,300 contracts traded at each strike. In addition, the deeper out-of-the-money January 14 call saw about 2,400 contracts change hands. Call open interest at all three strikes swelled overnight, and the majority of the contracts traded at the ask price, pointing to freshly bought bullish bets. By purchasing the calls to open, the buyers are expecting ATVI to muscle atop the respective strikes by options expiration.
Elsewhere on the Street, it appears the brokerage bunch was already in ATVI's bullish corner. According to Zacks, the equity currently boasts a whopping 10 "strong buys" and two "buy" ratings, compared to two tepid "holds" and not a "sell" in sight. Plus, Thomson Reuters deems the average 12-month price target on the stock at $14.54 – in territory ATVI hasn't explored since October 2008.
At last check, ATVI has advanced 1.4% to loiter in the $11.80 area. Limiting the stock's upward momentum, though, could be the more than 12,000 calls open at the November 12 strike, which may be acting as a layer of options-related resistance.