Advanced Micro Devices Options Traders Brace for Short-Term Headwinds

Put players have targeted Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) in recent weeks

by Karee Venema

Published on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:33 AM

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) is up 0.5% to trade at $13.50. Sparking the burst of buying power is a strong earnings report for fellow chipmaker NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) and Msci Inc's (NYSE:MSCI) announcement that it will add AMD shares to its World Index. Against this backdrop, AMD puts are trading at two times what's typically seen at this point in the day -- with nearly 33,200 puts on the tape at last check.

More broadly speaking, this accelerated put volume just echoes the activity seen in AMD's options pits in recent weeks. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.53 is ranked in the elevated 83rd percentile of its annual range. In other words, puts have been bought to open over calls at a faster-than-usual clip.

Drilling down, put players have targeted AMD's 13.50 strike -- with the weekly 2/10 13.50-strike put most active today, with 18,230 contracts traded and new positions being initiated. Meanwhile, over the past 10 sessions, the stock's February 13.50 put has seen the largest rise in open interest, with 16,920 new positions added. Data from Trade-Alert suggests the majority of this activity was of the buy-to-open kind, meaning speculators expect AMD to be sitting below $13.50 at next Friday's close, when front-month options expire.

Skepticism has been growing toward AMD stock outside of the options pits, too. Short interest on the tech shares jumped 12.7% in the latest two-week reporting period to 99.9 million shares -- the most since mid-April. What's more, these bearish bets now account for nearly 13% of the stock's available float. Elsewhere, half of the 20 covering analysts rate AMD a tepid "hold," while the average 12-month price target of $11.03 stands at a discount to the stock's current perch.

What's surprising is that there's this much pessimism levied toward a security that's put in a tremendous technical showing over the past 12 months. In fact, AMD has surged 626% year-over-year, and notched a nine-year peak of $14.27 on Wednesday, after Barron's waxed optimistic on the shares. Should Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) continue to climb up the charts, a capitulation from some of the weaker bearish hands and/or a continued round of bullish brokerage notes could add fuel to the stock's fire.

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