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SunPower Corporation (NASDAQ:SPWR - 6.01) options are on fire at midday, especially on the put side of the tape. Upon closer inspection, though, it looks like speculators are employing these typically bearish bets to gamble on limited short-term downside for the uptrending equity.
At last check, SPWR has seen roughly 1,200 puts change hands -- about eight times the norm. Most popular has been the out-of-the-money January 2013 5-strike put, which has seen more than 700 contracts cross the tape. The majority of the puts traded at the bid price, and implied volatility (IV) was last seen 11 percentage points higher, hinting at sell-to-open activity.
By writing the puts to open, the sellers are expecting SPWR to remain north of $5 through the next couple of weeks. In this best-case scenario, the puts will expire worthless, allowing the sellers to retain the net credit received at initiation.
From a broader sentiment standpoint, most neutral-to-bullish traders have utilized calls to gamble on SPWR. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open more than 10 SPWR calls for every put during the past 50 sessions. What's more, the stock's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 10.46 ranks in the 98th percentile of its annual range, suggesting speculators have initiated bullish bets over bearish at a near annual-high clip in recent months.
In early afternoon trading, the shares of SPWR have followed the broader equities market into the black, tacking on 7.1% to hover north of the $6 marker. Bolstering the stock was news that a unit of Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy -- under the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.A) umbrella -- will buy two Southern California solar power projects from SPWR for $2 billion to $2.5 billion.