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Atmel Corporation (ATML - 9.84) was the focus of some bearish attention on Thursday, as close to 2,300 puts changed hands, quadrupling the stock's average daily volume. The bulk of the action centered around the in-the-money April 11 strike, where nearly 2,200 of these puts were traded -- almost all of them at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Open interest at this strike rose by 2,007 contracts overnight, pointing to an influx of new positions. This option now holds peak put open interest of 4,207 contracts. By purchasing these puts to open, traders are betting on ATML to continue its retreat beneath the $11 mark through front-month expiration.
This surge in put activity is nothing new for the microcontroller developer. The Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) for ATML checks in at 1.23, confirming that puts comfortably outnumber calls among options scheduled to expire in three months. In fact, this ratio ranks higher than all other readings taken within the past year, indicating that near-term options players are more bearishly aligned toward the stock now than at any other time over the last 12 months.
In terms of technical performance, ATML has shed nearly 27% on a year-over-year basis, and has lagged the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by roughly 7% during the past 40 days. On the charts, the stock is poised to close yet another month beneath its 10-month moving average, which has served as resistance since last July.
At last check, ATML is off by about 1.5% to hover at $9.84.