While one of the big stories in the market Tuesday was the
U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray
downgrade of chip behemoth
, some options market pros said the action in the options wasn't saying much about where investors think the stock is headed next.
Ashok Kumar, the Piper Jaffray analyst,
downgraded Intel to buy from strong buy, sparking a selloff in Intel shares. Intel was down $4.75 to $69.19, attracting traders to call options, as potentially both sellers and buyers.
The biggest volume in the options was seen in the near-the-money September 70 calls, with the heaviest volume seen on the
American Stock Exchange
, where more than 9000 of the options changing hands. The price of those calls fell 2 3/4 ($275) to 1 3/4 ($175) on the Amex at midday.
Traders could be selling calls against their stock position, betting that Intel's stock won't make any dramatic upside moves before the options expire on Sept. 15. Selling calls obligates the seller to deliver Intel shares at the strike price by expiration if the options are exercised. Selling calls is often seen as a bet against a stock rising.
Often, the money traders take in from selling call options is seen as offsetting any losses they're experiencing in the underlying shares if they already own the stock.
Traders could also be buying the calls expecting a smart rebound in the chip giant's stock. A call is the type of option that gives the purchaser the right but not the obligation to buy a security for a specified price at a certain time.
Further out, the October 70 calls were active on the Amex, with 2400 of the calls changing hands. The calls were down 2 7/8 ($287.50) to 4 1/8 ($412.50).