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Analysts were conflicted on Research in Motion Limited (USA) (NASDAQ:RIMM - 17.38) this morning , and the options crowd is following suit. Both call and put volume are heavier than usual, more than doubling what's typically expected in intraday trading. Roughly 166,000 calls have changed hands so far, versus 86,000 puts. On an average day, intraday volume totals 63,000 and 42,000 contracts, respectively, at this point in the trading session.
The most active put so far is the in-the-money January 2014 20-strike put, where more than 5,200 contracts have traded to easily outpace existing open interest. Four-fifths of the volume has changed hands at the ask price, and implied volatility has ticked nearly 4 percentage points higher, suggesting some of the trades are being purchased to open.
Given the volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $6.44, breakeven on this put -- at expiration -- is $13.56, or the strike price less the premium paid. This is a decline of almost 22% from current levels, but the stock has roughly a year in which to make this move. Potential gains are unlimited down to zero if the stock does decline through the breakeven mark, and losses are capped at 100% of the premium paid, should RIMM be trading above the strike price when the options expire. Delta on this position is currently -0.51, or 51%, representing a 1-in-2 chance the option will be in the money at expiration.
One brokerage firm downgraded its rating on RIMM shares this morning while simultaneously upping its price target, while another lifted its rating a notch. The negative note was quickly shaken off by RIMM, which has tacked on nearly 10% to hit a new 52-week high of $17.68. Investors are reacting positively to hints from the company's CEO that RIMM could put its handheld business up for sale or license its software to competitors. On the charts, the stock has broken above its 20-month moving average this month for the first time in 22 months.