By Pete Najarian, co-founder of OptionMonster
NEW YORK -- Applied Materials rose again Wednesday, and option traders were all over it.
Pacific Crest raised its price target on the stock to $21, based on the advantages from the company's Tokyo Electron buyout. The stock was already edging higher, and then the October 18 calls started flying. Some sizable blocks lit up optionMONSTER's Heat Seeker scanners less than half an hour after the opening bell with prints of 19 cents, 20 cents and 23 cents.
Such calls lock in the price where stock can be purchased, letting investors benefit from a rally for much less money than buying shares directly. They stand to generate some nice leverage even if the stock climbs only a small amount.That's exactly what happened Wednesday, as shares edged higher a couple percent while those October 18s doubled to 42 cents just hours later. More than 16,600 contracts changed hands in the session, about eight times the previous open interest at the strike. Applied's stock rose 2.26% to close at $17.84. Our trade scanners also detected the purchase of almost 10,000 January 18 calls for 81 cents and 82 cents later in the morning, so there is definitely some major positioning underway in the semiconductor-equipment maker as it prepares to get even bigger in its industry. Overall calls outpaced puts by 46,000 to 25,000 Wednesday, and total option activity was eight times greater than average. Najarian owns AMAT calls.