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NetApp Pessimists Forecast a Drop by Friday's Close

Weekly put volume flourishes on NTAP

by 1/8/2013 2:24 PM
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NetApp Inc. (NASDAQ:NTAP - 32.42) is down about 2.5% today, as it feels the weight of some bearish analyst attention directed toward sector peers EMC Corporation (NYSE:EMC) and Fusion-IO (NYSE:FIO). Bearish bettors seem to have taken note, as roughly 13,000 puts have crossed the tape so far. This is more than five times the norm, and about triple the number of calls exchanged.

Leading the pack has been the weekly 1/11 33-strike put, where north of 3,100 contracts have traded at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $1.17. The bulk of these puts changed hands at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. Since this option currently holds open interest of just 41 contracts -- while implied volatility was last seen 10.5 percentage points higher -- it can be assumed that new bearish bets are being established here. By purchasing these puts to open, speculators are counting on the shares to fall below breakeven at $31.83 (strike price less the VWAP) by this Friday's close, which is when these weekly options expire.

This preference for puts over calls is merely an extension of NTAP's current trend. Traders on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open 116 puts for every 100 calls during the past two weeks. The resultant 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.16 is just 9 percentage points shy of a pessimistic peak, meaning options players have been snatching up puts over calls at a near annual-high clip.

The data storage provider is off to a shaky start in 2013, shedding more than 3% year-to-date. What's more, NTAP is on pace to finish a second consecutive session well below its 20-day moving average, which had served as a floor for the stock since Nov. 15 -- the date of an earnings-induced bullish gap. Should the shares continue to trek lower throughout the week, today's put buyers could end up securing a profit on their bearish positions.


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