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MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc.'s (NYSE:WFR - 4.14) 3% pop in today's session has call players circling. Around 15,000 contracts have changed hands so far, representing more than 10 times the average intraday volume for call options. Meanwhile, fewer than 200 puts have crossed the tape.
Short-term speculators are betting on this upside to continue over the next two weeks, and are scooping up WFR's February 3.50 calls. Nearly all of the 1,122 contracts traded have gone off at the ask price, implied volatility has ticked 5.2 percentage points higher, and volume is outstripping open interest, suggesting a portion of today's activity is of the buy-to-open variety.
By purchasing these in-the-money calls for a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.66, traders need WFR to finish above $4.16 (strike price plus VWAP) by the close on Friday, Feb. 15, when front-month options expire. This breakeven level is just a hair's breadth from the stock's current price.
Delving a bit deeper into the information reveals today's option players are fairly confident in their outlook, and are willing to pay a pretty penny for these bullish bets. Implied volatility at the February 3.50 call is currently inflated relative to the stock's 20-day historical (realized) volatility (79% vs. 50.8%), suggesting premiums at this strike are relatively expensive at the moment.
Technically, WFR has been moving steadily higher in recent months. In addition to outperforming the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by more than 53 percentage points over the past 60 sessions, the stock has tacked on nearly 29% in 2013. Helping support this impressive price action has been the equity's 20-day moving average, which has ferried WFR up the charts since mid-November.
The stock is continuing with this upward momentum in today's session, after it was announced that SunEdison, a subsidiary of WFR, has penned a deal with CAP, a Chilean mining and steel group, to build the biggest solar photovoltaic power plant in Latin America. At last check, the equity was hovering near the $4.14 mark.