Micron Technology, Inc. (MU) Bulls Take Aim at New Highs Ahead of Earnings

Ahead of tomorrow night's earnings report, Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) is being targeted for a move to new highs by options traders

Dec 20, 2016 at 2:58 PM
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Micron Technology, Inc.'s (NASDAQ:MU) options pits are bustling, as the chipmaker prepares to report quarterly earnings after tomorrow's close. By the numbers, around 75,000 calls and 31,000 puts have traded on MU stock, or 1.8 times what's typically seen at this point in the session. While the January 2017 20.50- and 22-strike calls and 19-strike put are most active due to a three-way spread that is tied to stock, pre-earnings options traders are targeting the weekly 12/23 series -- echoing one brokerage firm's call for a breakout to new highs.

Specifically, the weekly 12/23 21-strike call has received notable attention, with 7,617 contracts traded so far. It seems safe to assume that new positions are being purchased here, meaning call buyers are betting on MU to topple the strike price by this Friday's close, when the weekly series expires. As a point of reference, MU stock topped out at an annual high of $21 last Friday.

More broadly, this accelerated call volume mirrors the activity seen in MU's options pits in recent months. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 3.85 ranks in the 80th annual percentile. Simply stated, calls have been bought to open over puts at a faster-than-usual clip.

And even with earnings on the immediate horizon, low volatility expectations are currently priced into the equity's near-term options -- a potential boon to premium buyers. Specifically, MU's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 42% ranks in the 13th annual percentile, while its 30-day at-the-money implied volatility of 42.9% sits below 72% of comparable readings taken in the past year.

Historically speaking, MU shares have averaged a single-session post-earnings move of 5.8% over the past eight quarters -- regardless of direction. This time around, the options market is pricing in a bigger swing of 8.8%. While the shares of Micron Technology, Inc. (NASDAQ:MU) are up 121% since hitting their most recent low of $9.35 in mid-May -- including today's 1.6% gain to $20.68 -- a post-earnings pullback isn't necessarily out of the question. In fact, MU has turned in a negative post-earnings performance in six of the last eight quarters.

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