Option Bulls Barrage Qualcomm (QCOM) Amid Rare Breakout

QUALCOMM, Inc. (QCOM) is sharply higher for once, thanks to a patent licensing deal with Xiaomi Technology

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Dec 2, 2015 at 10:31 AM

QUALCOMM, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOM) is breaking out this morning, last seen 7.2% higher at $52.83. The catalyst? The company struck a licensing deal with Xiaomi Technology, allowing the China-based mobile phone maker to use QCOM patents when manufacturing 3G and 4G devices. Amid these developments, option volume has gone through the roof.

QCOM calls are in particularly high demand, trading at four times the expected intraday rate. By the numbers, 32,000 calls are on the tape, versus fewer than 7,000 puts. Digging deeper, traders are apparently buying to open the weekly 12/4 53-strike call, anticipating the stock will hurdle the near-the-money strike by Friday's close, when the series expires.

This bullish bias is standard-fare for QCOM. During the past 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open 3.54 calls for every put. The corresponding call/put volume ratio ranks in the 87th percentile of its annual range.

Elsewhere, short sellers have been hitting the exits en masse lately -- though it hasn't necessarily helped the stock. During the last two reporting periods, short interest plunged 41.2%, and now makes up just 1.2% of QCOM's total float.

It's a bit surprising that traders are so hopeful. Despite QUALCOMM, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:QCOM) bull gap, the shares are still nearly 29% lower on a year-to-date basis. Also, on a relative-strength basis, the long-term laggard has underperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 18.7 percentage points during the last 20 sessions.

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