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Bearish bettors set their sights on ARM Holdings plc (NASDAQ:ARMH - 36.19) on Thursday, as put volume on the chip stock ballooned to double the expected level. A total of 1,400 puts changed hands on ARMH during the session, easily outstripping its typical daily put volume of 687 contracts. Meanwhile, 1,120 calls were exchanged, which is more or less the norm.
ARMH's December 35 put was the most active strike, as 1,125 contracts traded here. Nearly three-quarters of these front-month options crossed at the ask price, suggesting they were purchased, and open interest jumped overnight by 933 contracts. The volume-weighted average price (VWAP) checked in at $0.56, which means most of these put buyers will begin to profit if the stock moves below $34.44 (strike minus average premium paid) over the next two weeks until expiration.
Heavy put activity has become par for the course with ARMH, as evidenced by the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.32 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio ranks in the 68th annual percentile, suggesting that traders have purchased puts over calls at a faster-than-usual pace in recent weeks.
ARMH has racked up an impressive gain of 31.6% so far in 2012, and the stock recently staged an impressive breakout above longtime resistance in the $28-$32 neighborhood. In light of this technical setup, it's possible that some of these put buyers are actually ARMH shareholders looking to lock in some paper profits.