Apple Stock Brushes Off Spectre, Meltdown Risks

Jimmy Iovine is also reportedly leaving Apple Music

Jan 5, 2018 at 10:04 AM
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The extent of the damage due to security flaws in Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) chips took a drastic turn last night when Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) confirmed that all of its Mac and iOS devices -- including the iPhone and iPad -- were impacted by the Meltdown and Spectre bugs. However, Apple said that there were currently "no known exploits" and that it has already issued software updates for MacOS, iOS, and tvOS, with a Safari patch expected in a few days.

Separately, Billboard reported yesterday that Jimmy Iovine will be leaving Apple Music in August -- a move possibly coordinated to a full vesting of his AAPL shares. Iovine's history with Apple dates back to 2003, when he helped develop iTunes and the iPod alongside Steve Jobs. Most recently, he came back on board in 2014 after Apple bought Beats, his co-venture with Dr. Dre.

Apple stock has had a positive reaction to this onslaught of headlines in early trading, though this could also be a result of tailwinds from the broader stock market. Whatever the reason, AAPL was last seen up 0.6% at $173.99, pacing for a 2.7% weekly gain. Longer term, the security has surged roughly 50% over the past year, thanks to support from its 80- and 120-day moving averages, while a recent pullback from its Dec. 18 record high of $177.20 was quickly contained by its 50-day trendline.

Apple options traders have been piling up on calls in recent sessions. The weekly 1/5 172.50 and 175 strikes are seeing the biggest increases in open interest over the past five sessions, with 17,552 and 19,825 contracts added, respectively. Data from the major options exchanges points to a mix of buy- and sell-to-open activity here, meaning speculators are split on whether AAPL stock has room to run by tonight's close -- or has hit a temporary top.

Regardless, it's a more attractive time to buy premium on short-term AAPL options, than sell it. The stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 15% ranks in the 8th annual percentile, meaning low volatility expectations are being priced into near-term contracts. Plus, Apple's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) of 84 suggests the equity has tended to make bigger-than-expected moves over the past year, relative to what the options market has priced in -- a potential boon to premium buyers.


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