Options Traders, Analysts Weigh In Ahead of Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone Event

All eyes are on Apple Inc. (AAPL), ahead of tomorrow's expected iPhone 7 reveal

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Sep 6, 2016 at 11:11 AM

With tomorrow's big Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) event looming, there's no shortage of opinions on the iPhone parent. Drexel Hamilton is hopeful -- speculating that this past summer "will prove to be a bottoming process for Apple's stock" -- as is Cowen, which sees the iPhone 7 as the "bridge" to an upcoming super-cycle. The positive buzz has the tech stock fractionally higher at $107.78, and one options trader placing an interesting short-term bet.

Taking a quick step back, calls are crossing at a 1.2 times the expected intraday clip. Much of the action stems from one trader who appears to have purchased new blocks of 4,745 weekly 9/9 108- and 112-strike calls, while selling to open a block of 9,490 weekly 9/9 110-strike calls -- otherwise known as a long call butterfly. In other words, the options player is counting on AAPL to settle directly at $110 by Friday's close, when the series expires.

Today's accelerated call activity is reflective of a longer-term trend. During the past two weeks at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open 1.82 AAPL calls for every put -- ranking in the 79th annual percentile. Echoing this call-skew, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.54 registers below 96% of all other readings from the past year, with calls nearly doubling puts among options expiring in the next three months.

Optimism isn't hard to find
elsewhere, either. For example, less than 1% of AAPL's float is sold short. Likewise, 26 of 30 analysts rate the stock a "buy" or better, while its average 12-month price target of $123.66 stands in territory not charted since early November -- and at a 14.7% premium to present trading levels.

Technically speaking, though, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) hasn't exactly lit up the charts. Year-over-year, the shares have lost nearly 4%, and they just ran into resistance around the 320-day moving average. If the stock ends up succumbing to technical pressure -- or AAPL's expected iPhone event fails to impress -- an unwinding of optimism on Wall Street could trigger strong headwinds.

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