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SanDisk Optimists Target an Extended Rally

SNDK investors scooped up near-the-money calls

by 9/20/2012 10:00 AM
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The shares of SanDisk Corporation (NASDAQ:SNDK - 45.42) have advanced about 12% so far this month, but are now challenging potential resistance in the $46-$48 neighborhood. Nevertheless, the options crowd is betting on SNDK to reclaim this former area of support -- which also marks SNDK's bearish gap from early April -- with soon-to-be front-month calls flying off the shelves.

By the closing bell, the tech concern had seen roughly 17,000 calls cross the tape -- more than twice its average daily call volume, and close to three times the number of SNDK puts traded. Most popular was the October 47 call, which saw more than 5,200 contracts change hands. The majority of the calls crossed at the ask price, and call open interest at the near-the-money strike ballooned by about 2,200 contracts overnight, underscoring our theory of newly bought bullish bets.

Digging deeper, the volume-weighted average price of the calls was $1.76. As such, the call buyers will begin to profit if SNDK conquers the $48.76 level (strike plus premium paid) within the next few weeks. However, if SNDK remains south of $47, the investors' maximum risk is limited to the net debit at initiation.

Broadening our sentiment scope, we find that yesterday's appetite for calls runs counter to the recent trend on the major exchanges. In fact, on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), SNDK's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.78 stands in the 73rd percentile of its annual range. In other words, speculators have initiated bearish bets over bullish at a faster-than-usual pace during the past couple of weeks.

Elsewhere, despite outperforming the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 15 percentage points during the past 60 sessions, SNDK still has a few skeptics among the brokerage bunch. Currently, nine out of 24 analysts maintain "hold" or "sell" opinions, and the average 12-month price target of $45.56 represents a discount to the stock's closing price of $46.18 on Wednesday.

As I mentioned earlier, the shares of SNDK have been on fire recently, tacking on roughly 49% since skimming the $31 level in early June. Should the security continue its upward momentum and reclaim support in the $46-$48 neighborhood, an unwinding of the lingering skepticism on Wall Street could work to SNDK's advantage.

In early trading, SNDK has followed the broader equities markets into the red, shedding 1.6% to linger in the $45.42 region.

Daily Chart of SNDK since October 2011

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