Takeover Chatter Fuels Call Buying on This Apple Supplier

Qorvo shares are extending their recent bounce off the 200-day moving average as buyout buzz swirls

Jul 12, 2017 at 3:04 PM
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Qorvo Inc (NASDAQ:QRVO) is seeing heavier-than-usual call volume, as the Apple supplier finds itself the target of takeover chatter. As speculation swirls, QRVO shares are trading up 1.4% at $66.85, and 7,091 call options have changed hands -- seven times the expected intraday amount -- near the 52-week high of 8,091 calls traded in a single session on Jan. 20.

Most active is the July 70 call, where almost 3,400 contracts have traded. New positions are being initiated here, and there appears to be a healthy mix of buying and selling occurring. Those purchasing the calls to open are betting on QRVO breaking out above $70 by front-month options expiration at next Friday's close. Conversely, those selling to open the calls expect the strike to serve as a short-term ceiling.

The 70 strike has been popular in QRVO's options pits in recent weeks, with the stock's August 70 call seeing the biggest rise in open interest over this time frame, with 2,535 contracts added. Data from Trade-Alert suggests the bulk of the activity occurred one week ago when a 2,299-contract block was bought to open for $425,315 (number of contracts * $1.85 premium paid * 100 shares per contract). This is the most the trader stands to lose, should QRVO settle south of $70 at August expiration, while gains are theoretically unlimited on a move north of breakeven at $71.85 (strike plus premium paid).

The lifetime of the August call option includes QRVO's upcoming earnings report, scheduled to be released after the close on Monday, July 31. Considering the shares have posted a negative earnings reaction in six of the last eight quarters, last week's purchase of the 70-strike calls could be at the hands of a short seller using an options hedge to guard against any upside risk. Despite dropping 5.4% in the most recent reporting period, short interest still accounts for nearly 10% of the equity's float.

In fact, in the session before this bet was placed, Qorvo shares took a strong bounce off their 200-day moving average -- located near $63 -- following a month-long pullback from their May 31 annual high of $79.34. Longer term, QRVO stock has added 27% in 2017.

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