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The shares of Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY - 14.65) have erased their early losses, muscling notably higher in afternoon action. What's more, some options speculators are rolling the dice on more upside for the BlackBerry maker this week, with soon-to-expire calls flying off the shelves.
At last check, BBRY has seen roughly 130,000 calls change hands -- a 61% mark-up to its average midday volume, and twice the number of BBRY puts exchanged. Most active is the February 14 call, which has seen more than 17,800 contracts traded on open interest of fewer than 11,300 contracts, pointing to a heap of new positions. Plus, a healthy portion of the calls have crossed at the ask price, hinting at buyer-driven volume.
Digging even deeper, the 14-strike calls traded at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.42, meaning the buyers' profit will increase the higher BBRY moves north of $14.42 (strike plus VWAP) through tomorrow's closing bell, when February-dated options expire. So far, BBRY has traded as high as $14.86, suggesting the calls are already profitable. The maximum risk on the trade is the initial premium paid.
However, not everyone on Wall Street is so optimistic. Despite outperforming the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 36 percentage points during the past three months, BBRY sports just four "buy" or better ratings, compared to 11 tepid "holds" and 16 "sell" or worse suggestions. Plus, the average 12-month price target on the stock is a meager $11.25 -- a significant discount to BBRY's current share price -- and short interest accounts for more than one-quarter of the stock's available float.
As alluded to earlier, the shares of BBRY dropped right out of the gate today, thanks to news that former CEO Jim Balsillie sold his remaining stake in the firm. However, the stock has since bounced back, and was last seen 4.7% higher to flirt with the $14.65 level.
Should BBRY resume its longer-term uptrend, adding to its year-to-date advance of more than 18%, a round of upgrades, price-target hikes, or a short-squeeze situation could add contrarian fuel to the fire.