Bearish Bets Run Hot Amid Apple Inc. (AAPL) Malware Mess

Apple Inc. (AAPL) put buyers have been active in recent months

by Alex Eppstein

    Published on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:00 AM

    Tech heavyweight Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) announced a list of the 25 most popular apps infected with the XcodeGhost malware -- including Didi Taxi and WeChat. The company confirmed it has removed the apps from the App Store, while adding, "We have no information to suggest that the malware has been used to do anything malicious." Wall Street is reacting negatively to the news, with AAPL shares down 1.5% at $112.62.

    In the options pits, traders have been wagering on losses for the Dow component. Specifically, during the past 10 weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), AAPL has amassed a put/call volume ratio of 0.66 -- a 12-month high. In other words, speculators have been buying to open puts over calls at an extreme rate in recent months. Echoing this, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.82 ranks in the top quartile of its annual range.

    In today's action, puts have a healthy lead over calls -- 134,000 contracts to 95,000. Digging deeper, the weekly 9/25 strike, which expires tomorrow night, accounts for the eight of AAPL's 10 most popular options. Leading the way, however, is the weekly 10/2 105-strike put, which is seeing buy-to-open activity. In other words, traders are counting on AAPL to breach the $105 mark by next Friday's close, when the weekly series expires.

    Recently, the $114-$116 range has served as resistance -- a speed bump currently reinforced by Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) descending 10-week moving average, located at $114.64. Longer term, the stock is sitting on a 2% year-to-date lead, but has descended sharply since testing the $133-to- $134 area for the fourth time this year, in late July.

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