Semiconductor Stock Options Active After Apple Cut

STMicroelectronics options are flying off the shelves today

Jan 3, 2019 at 2:23 PM
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Apple's (AAPL) cut revenue guidance is being felt across several sectors, weighing on iPhone retailers like Best Buy (BBY) and a slew of chipmakers. Among them, STMicroelectronics NV (NYSE:STM) stock is trading at new lows, and options traders are swarming the Swiss semiconductor maker today.

At last check, STM shares were down 11.9% to trade at $12.10, and earlier touched a new annual low of $12.06. The security has been in freefall mode since touching a decade-plus peak of $26.43 in mid-June, surrendering more than half its value, with rebound attempts contained by its 30-day moving average.

STM stock chart jan 3

As alluded to earlier, STM options are flying off the shelves at about five times the average afternoon clip, with roughly 2,400 calls and 1,800 puts exchanged. The equity's 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has shot 10.8% higher to 56.4%, a new annual high.

Amid escalating volatility expectations, it looks like one trader may be trying to capitalize on the relatively rich option premiums. The January 12.50 call is most active so far today, and it appears one speculator may have sold to open a block of 1,000 contracts to bet on a short-term top for STM. Should the shares remain beneath $12.50 through the option's lifetime -- which ends at the close on Friday, Jan. 18 -- the trader can keep the entire premium received at initiation.

While absolute options volume tends to run light on STM, recent speculators have been showing an affinity for bearish bets, even before today. On 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 0.41 is in the 90th percentile of its annual range. So, while STM calls purchased still outnumbered puts, traders have shown a much healthier-than-usual appetite for the latter in the past two weeks.




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