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Option traders picked up short-term puts on Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S - 5.64) on Tuesday, with speculators gambling on a dip for the telecom concern. During the course of the session, S saw roughly 19,000 puts change hands, compared to just 11,000 call options exchanged.
Most active was the February 5.50 put, which saw more than 9,200 contracts cross the tape at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.07. Most of the puts traded at the ask price, and open interest at the front-month strike swelled overnight, pointing to buy-to-open activity.
By purchasing the puts to open, the buyers expect S to retreat beneath the $5.43 level (strike minus VWAP) by the closing bell on Friday, Feb. 15, when the options expire. However, even if S remains north of the strike -- which emerged as support in mid-October -- the most the buyers can lose is the initial premium paid for the puts.
From a broader sentiment standpoint, yesterday's appetite for long puts was just more of the same for S. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.63 ranks in the 87th percentile of its annual range. Or, in simpler terms, option buyers have initiated bearish bets over bullish at a much faster-than-usual clip during the past couple of weeks.
Ahead of the bell, the shares of S are pointed modestly lower, but should remain in the $5.50-$6 zone, which has contained the stock for the past few months.
Off the charts, DISH Network Corp. (NASDAQ:DISH) said it won't file a petition opposing the approval of Softbank's planned $20 billion purchase of a 70% stake in Sprint, citing uncertainty regarding Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR). Earlier this month, DISH trumped Sprint's $2.97-per-share offer for CLWR, bidding $3.30 per share for the firm.