Western Digital Stock Options Traders Brace for a Quick Retreat

Toshiba is reportedly snubbing Western Digital's bid for its chip unit

Sep 12, 2017 at 10:53 AM
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A number of Apple suppliers are trading higher today, ahead of this afternoon's big iPhone event. Among those is Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC), with the shares up 0.5% to trade at $87.80, even after Reuters reported Toshiba is favoring a consortium led by Bain Capital to buy its memory chip unit. Today's price action is just reflective of WDC stock's longer-term trend, up 68% year-over-year. And even though the equity's rising 200-day moving average served as a springboard during WDC's recent pullback, options traders have been bracing for a retreat.

wdc stock daily chart sept 12

At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), for instance, WDC's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.80 ranks higher than 90% of all comparable readings taken in the past year. In other words, puts have been bought to open relative to calls at a faster-than-usual clip in recent weeks.

Drilling down, the September 86.50 put has seen the biggest rise in open interest over this time frame, with more than 3,400 contracts added. Data from the major options exchanges confirms the bulk of this activity was of the buy-to-open kind, meaning options traders are betting on WDC shares to close south of $86.50 by this Friday's close. 

While this could be a result of shareholders hedging against any downside risk, skepticism has been building outside of the options pits, too. Short interest on WDC climbed 33.5% in the most recent reporting period to 5.67 million shares. Should the stock continue to climb, a capitulation from some of the weaker bearish hands could translate into additional tailwinds.

And regardless of the reason behind the rush toward long puts, now is an affordable time to buy WDC options.The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 33% ranks in the 13th annual percentile, indicating low volatility expectations are being priced into short-term contracts -- a potential boon to premium buyers.

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