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JDS Uniphase Corp (NASDAQ:JDSU - 15.32) has seen an rare upswing in bearish speculation today, as approximately 11,000 puts have changed hands thus far -- about seven times the norm, and more than quadruple the number of calls traded. The near-the-money March 15 put has taken center stage, with about 9,400 contracts crossing the tape at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.51.
A closer inspection of the data shows that a healthy portion of these puts were exchanged at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Meanwhile, today's volume has surpassed current open interest levels, and implied volatility was last seen 3 percentage points higher -- underscoring our theory of buy-to-open activity. In other words, speculators are expecting JDSU to fall south of breakeven at $14.49 (strike price less the VWAP) by the close on March 15. This represents a 5.4% decline from the equity's present perch.
Today's surge in bearish options activity runs counter to the telecom issue's recent trend. The stock sports a 20-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 2.00, signaling traders have purchased two calls for every put during the past couple of weeks. Similarly, the Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for JDSU sits at 0.45, with calls outpacing puts by a margin of more than 2-to-1 among options expiring in the next three months. This ratio is docked in the 16th annual percentile, conveying a stronger-than-typical bullish bias toward the shares of late.
JDSU has fared well so far in 2013, gaining close to 14% year-to-date, while also besting the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by over 14 percentage points during the last two months. Even more recently, the security gapped about 17% higher on Jan. 31, courtesy of a stronger-than-anticipated fiscal second-quarter earnings report. However, even if the stock fails to sink below the previously noted breakeven rail prior to March expiration, today's bears will risk losing only the premium paid for their put purchases.