Time to Strike on AMD Calls

There's ample skepticism priced into outperforming AMD stock

Nov 5, 2019 at 2:27 PM
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Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) stock has been surging up the charts since taking a sharp bounce off familiar support at its 180-day moving average in early October, gaining nearly 28%. What's more, the shares are pacing for a fifth straight win today -- up 2.3% at $37.14, fresh off a 12-year high of $37.18 -- a streak sparked by a positive earnings reaction back on Oct. 30.

In the wake of AMD's earnings event, implied volatility (IV) on options plummeted. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) currently arrives at 42%, which registers in the 10th percentile of its annual range. This means short-term implied volatilities have priced in lower volatility expectations only 10% of the time over the past year.

According to data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, there have been eight other times since 2008 when AMD stock was trading near new 52-week highs, while its SVI was ranked in the 20th annual percentile or lower. The chip stock was up 15.7%, on average, one month out, with seven of those returns positive.

An unwinding of skepticism could keep the wind at AMD's back. Analysts, for instance, have been slow to catch up to the stock's rapid climb up the charts. While 13 of 22 still maintain a lukewarm "hold" recommendation on AMD, the average 12-month price target of $34.65 is a discount to current levels.

Short sellers have already started covering their underwater bets. Short interest declined 7.5% in the most recent reporting period to 141.29 million shares, though this still represents a significant 14% of AMD's available float. The semiconductor stock could extend its climb up the charts, should short sellers continue buying back their bearish bets.

Today's options traders are betting on more upside through this Friday's close. Nearly 200,000 Advanced Micro Devices calls have changed hands so far today -- 1.5 times what's typically seen at this point. The weekly 11/8 37-strike call is most active, and it looks like new positions are being purchased here for a volume-weighted average price of $0.52, making breakeven for the call buyers $37.52 (strike plus premium paid).

amd stock daily price chart on nov 5


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