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Short-term options traders are betting on Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F - 9.62) to muscle back into double-digit territory, as evidenced by today's affinity for weekly calls. Overall, the automaker has seen roughly 68,000 calls cross the tape -- about seven times the number of F puts traded, and representing an increase of around 83% to the stock's average intraday call activity.
Attracting notable attention has been the weekly 10-strike call, which expires after the closing bell next Friday, Aug. 24. So far, more than 11,000 contracts have changed hands -- mostly at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Plus, just 3,604 calls are currently docked at the weekly strike, pointing to newly initiated positions. As alluded to earlier, the 10-strike call buyers are expecting F climbs back atop the $10 level within the next week.
However, bullish bets have become par for the course for F options traders. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock sports a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 4.24, indicating that traders have bought to open more than four F calls for every put during the past two weeks. Plus, this ratio registers in the 74th percentile of its annual range, pointing to a healthier-than-usual appetite for optimistic positions of late.
In similar fashion, the brokerage bunch also has high hopes for the Detroit darling. Currently, F boasts nine "strong buys" and one "buy" rating from analysts, compared to five lukewarm "holds" and not a single "sell." Likewise, the consensus 12-month price target on the equity stands at $13.69, implying expected upside of nearly 40% to F's closing price of $9.59 on Thursday, and in territory the stock hasn't explored in more than a year.
At last check, the shares of F have advanced 0.4%, and are currently battling their 50-day moving average, which has suppressed the equity's rebound attempts since early April. From a longer-term perspective, the stock has shed roughly 10% in 2012, and has underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by almost 15 percentage points during the past 60 sessions. Should F retreat in the face of the $10 level -- which served as support from mid-May to late June, and could now switch roles to act as resistance -- a reversal in sentiment in the options pits, or a wave of negative analyst attention, could exacerbate the stock's year-to-date struggles.