Seagate Technology PLC (STX) Option Buyers Strike Gold

Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ:STX) is getting a halo lift from Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC)

Jul 7, 2016 at 11:01 AM
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Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ:STX) is up 3% at $24.23, on a halo lift from fellow tech stock Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC). Nevertheless, put volume has popped to 1.5 times what's typically seen in STX stock's options pits at this point in the day. While volume is still relatively light on an absolute basis, short-term contracts are in high demand, with eight of STX's 10 most active options expiring in less than two weeks.

More broadly speaking, options traders have shown a distinct preference for puts over calls among options set to expire in three months or less. In fact, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) is docked at a top-heavy 1.16. Plus, this ratio ranks in the 85th annual percentile, meaning short-term speculators are more put-heavy than usual toward STX.

Drilling down, the stock's August 20 and 22 puts have seen the biggest rise in open interest over the past 10 sessions, with a collective 9,097 contracts added. Widening the scope, the September 15 and 20 puts are home to STX's top open interest positions, with a combined 27,829 contracts currently in residence.

Now appears to be a prime time for options buyers to strike on STX's near-term contracts, too. Specifically, the stock's Schaeffer's Volatility Scorecard (SVS) of 89 suggests the options market has historically underpriced the equity's ability to make big moves on the chart -- a potential boon for those purchasing short-term premium.

Outside of the options pits, sentiment is tilted toward the skeptical side. Short interest, for example, jumped 4.8% in the most recent reporting period -- and now accounts for nearly 11% of the stock's available float. It would take more than a week to cover these shorted shares, at STX's average daily pace of trading.

Elsewhere, 19 of the 23 analysts covering STX maintain a "hold" or worse rating. Plus, the average 12-month price target of $23.46 stands at a discount to the equity's current trading price.

Technically, STX has been a long-term laggard, shedding nearly half its value year-over-year. However, the negative 50% year-over-year technical level recently served as an inflection point for the shares of Seagate Technology PLC (NASDAQ:STX). The shares could continue this recent rally, too, should short sellers jump ship and/or analysts begin to re-evaluate their skeptical ratings.

STX daily chart

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