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The shares of Linear Technology Corporation (NASDAQ:LLTC - 33.57) are trading higher at midday, edging closer to familiar resistance in the $34-$34.50 neighborhood. From a longer-term standpoint, the stock has spent the past year in a range of roughly six points, but it looks like one options strategist is betting on a breakout -- in either direction -- within the next few months.
So far today, LLTC has seen around 1,650 calls and 1,250 puts change hands, far surpassing its average afternoon volume of fewer than 250 calls and 200 puts. The majority of the action is attributable to a spread, with symmetrical blocks of 1,250 contracts exchanged at the May 30 put and May 37 call. The options traded at the ask price -- the puts for $1 apiece, the calls for $0.69 -- and volume has exceeded open interest at both strikes, pointing to the initiation of a long strangle.
By purchasing both out-of-the-money puts and calls on LLTC, the strategist is expecting a major move, one way or another, by May options expiration. Specifically, the strangle was purchased for a net debit of $1.69 per pair of contracts, meaning the investor will profit if LLTC perforates one of two breakeven rails: the $28.31 level (put strike minus net debit) or the $38.69 level (call strike plus net debit). Or, considering LLTC has spent the past 12 months between the $34.50 and $28.28 levels, the trader is betting on new-high or new-low territory. However, even if LLTC remains within this range through the long term, the strategist's maximum risk is capped at the initial premium paid for the options.
Technically speaking, the shares of LLTC were last seen 0.2% higher in the $33.57 region, after the company increased and accelerated its quarterly dividend. As alluded to earlier, the stock is staring up at familiar resistance in the $34-$34.50 area, which has stifled LLTC's recent rally attempts.