New AMD Stock Price Target Sparks Heavy Options Trading

AMD short sellers could be initiating an options hedge, though

Sep 10, 2018 at 1:24 PM
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Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMD) stock has jumped 5.8% today to trade at $28.98, after Wells Fargo raised its price target to $34 from $20 -- a 24% premium to last Friday's close, and territory not explored since May 2006 -- echoing a recent trend on Wall Street. Adding to the bullish buzz, Susquehanna said earlier that "most data points for AMD were constructive," though the analyst in coverage maintained his "neutral" rating.

Options traders are echoing this optimism today, too, with roughly 293,000 calls on the tape -- 1.4 times what's typically seen at this point, and three times the number of puts traded. Most active are the weekly 9/14 29- and 30-strike calls, where almost 56,800 contracts have collectively traded. Data hints at significant buy-to-open activity at both strikes, meaning speculators are betting on even more upside through week's end.

While it's likely some of today's activity is of the traditional bullish kind, it's also possible short sellers are using the out-of-the-money calls to bet against any additional upside risk. Despite falling 12.9% in the most recent reporting period, there are still 146.3 million AMD shares sold short -- representing 17.6% of the stock's available float.

Whatever the reason, those weekly options are pricing in elevated volatility expectations right now. According to Trade-Alert, the at-the-money implied volatility term structure on weekly 9/14 AMD options is 77.8%, compared to 69.3% for the standard September series and 64.4% for monthly October contracts.

Looking at the charts, AMD stock has been making a beeline north since brushing by the $9 mark back in April, up 222%. Plus, the shares are withing striking distance of their 12-year peak of $29.94 from Sept. 5

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