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Intel Option Players See Short-Term Struggles Ahead

INTC's 1/25 21-strike put was popular on Friday

by 1/22/2013 10:14 AM
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Put players were out in full force on Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC - 21.16) Friday, following the tech titan's ill-received fourth-quarter earnings results. Roughly 206,000 contracts changed hands, more than tripling the average daily volume for put options. Near-term traders zeroed in on INTC's 1/25 21-strike put, which saw around 12,500 contracts trade. The majority of these went off at the ask price, and open interest rose over the weekend, pointing to buy-to-open activity.

By purchasing these near-the-money puts to open for a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.16, traders will begin to profit with each step south of $20.84 (strike price less the VWAP) INTC takes through Friday's close -- when these weekly options expire. This breakeven mark represents a 1.5% drop from current levels. Should the stock fail to breach this level by week's end, the most these speculators have risked is the initial premium paid.

Expanding the scope reveals INTC option traders have been placing bullish bets, not bearish, at an accelerated clip in recent months. During the course of the past 50 sessions, traders at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) have bought to open 175 calls for every 100 puts on INTC. The resultant call/put volume ratio of 1.75 ranks higher than 74% of other such readings taken in the past year, suggesting calls have been bought to open over puts at a faster-than-usual pace throughout the last 10 weeks.

On the charts, INTC has been a long-term laggard, with the stock is down around 21% on a year-over-year basis. However, the equity has shown signs of life in recent months, rebounding more than 10% since hitting an annual low of $19.23 on Nov. 21. The upward momentum was quickly stunted on Friday, though, after the Dow component's poor quarterly results prompted some bearish attention from the brokerage bunch. INTC ended the day with a 6.3% deficit.

This dreary price action in continuing in today's session. At last check, the equity was 0.4% lower, lingering near $21.16.


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