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Options Traders Betting on OmniVision Swing

Speculation grows that the company will preannounce its earnings.

OmniVision Technologies (OVTI) shares have slid along with other semiconductor stocks this week, but volume on its options has spiked on expectations of a larger move coming in the stock of the image-sensor chipmaker.

On Wednesday, OmniVision puts logged volume of 14,955 contracts and calls logged 8,828 contracts -- well above the 21-day average for both put and calls.

OmniVision shares rose Thursday 1.1% to $17.03.

Alison Regan, capital markets associate with Susquehanna Financial, said Wednesday's action was significant because almost all of the recent options trades were placing bets on a stock swing occurring by February expiration -- ahead of OmniVision's quarterly financial results.

The company won't release results until the week of Feb. 28, which falls in the March options cycle. If speculators wanted to bet on the company's results gyrating its stock, Regan said, they would be buying March options.

This suggests growing speculation that the company will preannounce its earnings.

"Multiple people think OmniVision is going to experience a spike in volatility between now and the February expiration," said Regan, who noted that order flow doesn't indicate which way the stock would move. "With OmniVision earnings expected after February expiration, and no other catalyst on the horizon, the participants may be speculating that a notable stock move would stem from a pre-release from OmniVision."

Currently, analysts expect OmniVision to earn 27 cents a share on sales of $96 million, on average, according to Thomson First Call, for its fiscal third quarter, which ends in January.

A point of history, however: The last time OmniVision preannounced results was on Oct. 29, 2003, when it boosted financial targets.