Did Apple Shorts Overract?

12/03/2012 8:00 am EST

Focus: OPTIONS

Elizabeth Harrow

Financial Analyst, Schaeffer's Investment Research, Inc.

Traders are slowly regaining some interest in AAPL calls, says Elizabeth Harrow of Schaeffer’s Investment Research.

It looks like call options are back in style on Apple Inc. (AAPL). These bullishly slanted contracts had gradually fallen out of favor over the past several months, with the tech stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio trending lower from September through mid-November. Given the simultaneous slide in AAPL shares during this time, it's not too surprising that speculators lost their collective appetite for call options. However, with the iPad parent now recovering from its lows, traders are once again testing the bullish waters.

Specifically, AAPL currently sports a 10-day call/put ratio of 1.55, based on buy-to-open volume data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX)—up from 1.38 as recently as Nov. 12. As indicated by the accompanying chart, this call/put ratio hit a near-term bottom at roughly the same time as AAPL shares, which touched an intraday low of $505.75 on Nov. 12.

However, that 10-day reading of 1.55 still points to a lower-than-usual interest level in AAPL calls. In fact, it ranks below 71% of other such readings taken during the past year. In other words, bullish speculation on the iPad parent is still far from annual-high levels.

chart
Click to Enlarge

In fact, short interest on the stock has ramped up considerably in recent weeks. The number of AAPL shares sold short ballooned by 28.3% over the most recent reporting period, and now stands at 21.64 million—marking a fresh four-year high.

On the charts, AAPL has been stalling out around the $590 level throughout last week. This round-number area briefly played the role of resistance back in June, and could continue to cause some headaches during the near term. However, if the tech giant can muster enough momentum to continue its technical comeback, it seems there's still plenty of room for more bulls to climb aboard the bandwagon.

By Elizabeth Harrow, Financial Analyst, Schaeffer’s Investment Research

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