Calls Catch Fire on Microsemi Corporation (MSCC) M&A Buzz

Microsemi Corporation (MSCC) soared to an all-time high following buyout speculation

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Nov 3, 2016 at 12:11 PM

Speculation is swirling after Bloomberg reported chipmaker Microsemi Corporation (NASDAQ:MSCC) has hired Bank of Montreal (USA) (NYSE:BMO) to help coordinate a sale, following a buyout offer from sector peer Skyworks Solutions Inc (NASDAQ:SWKS). While terms of SWKS' offer haven't been revealed, the M&A buzz has MSCC trading 14.2% higher at $47.76 -- and fresh off a new record high of $50. Meanwhile, the action is heating up in the stock's typically quiet options pits.

Jumping right in, MSCC calls options are crossing the tape at roughly 13 times the typical intraday pace, while call, put, and total options volume are all on pace to tap annual highs before the day is out. To put things in perspective, 6,439 MSCC options have changed hands already, compared to an average daily volume of just 1,004 contracts.

Unsurprisingly, calls account for eight of the 10 most active strikes. The lead spots belong to the December 50 and 45 calls, where volume outstrips open interest -- suggesting some positions are being opened. It's also worth mentioning that MSCC's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has fallen by 7% since Wednesday's close, but remains seated in the high 96th annual percentile, at 48.8%. In other words, short-term options premium remains more expensive than usual.

Today's preference for calls is actually somewhat mild compared to what MSCC has seen in recent weeks. Over the past 10 sessions at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculators have purchased 2,945 calls, versus just two puts. Near-term traders have also been call-heavy, per MSCC's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.22 -- in the low 13th percentile of its annual range.

All of this call-heavy action could point to bullish speculation, but some ulterior motives could also be in play. Short interest on MSCC has been on the rise in recent weeks, and now accounts for 7.7% of the equity's available float. These bearish bets would take nearly two weeks to cover, at MSCC's typical pace of trading. In other words, some short sellers may have picked up long calls to hedge against a big upside surprise, such as today's.

Microsemi Corporation (NASDAQ:MSCC) is hardly undeserving of optimism, however. The shares have added 46.5% so far in 2016, hitting a series of rising highs and lows in the lead-up to this morning's bull gap. Plus, after a recent bounce off support around the $38 level, the stock has barreled through previous resistance in the $42.50 region.

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