Thanks to a tech-sector halo lift, the shares of Aruba Networks, Inc. (NASDAQ:ARUN - 14.10) are trading significantly higher today, which has attracted a wave of bullish option bettors. In early afternoon action, the information technology concern has already seen close to 5,700 calls change hands -- more than eight times its average mid-session call volume.
Most popular has been the now at-the-money July 14 call, which has seen more than 4,000 contracts cross the tape on open interest of fewer than 2,200, pointing to an influx of fresh positions. Plus, 97% of the soon-to-expire calls have traded at the ask price, suggesting they were bought. By purchasing the calls to open, the speculators are expecting ARUN to extend today's gains through the end of the week, when front-month options expire.
However, today's appetite for calls is somewhat of a rarity among ARUN's options crowd. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has racked up a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.60, indicating that traders have bought to open nearly three ARUN puts for every call during the past couple of weeks. Even more telling, this ratio stands just three percentage points from a 52-week high, implying that speculators have initiated pessimistic positions at a near annual-high pace.
In the same skeptical vein, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.25 tells us that puts outnumber calls among the front-three months' series of options. Plus, this ratio stands higher than 90% of all other readings of the past year, implying that near-term options players have rarely been more put-skewed toward ARUN.
Widening our sentiment scope, we find that the pessimism plaguing ARUN isn't limited to the options arena. Short interest climbed 8.9% during the most recent reporting period, and now accounts for a healthy 23.7% of the stock's total available float. In fact, at ARUN's average pace of trading, it would take nearly two weeks to buy back all of these bearish bets.
Technically speaking, it's no wonder most of the Street is wary of ARUN. The shares have shed nearly 48% during the past year, with rebound attempts halted by their 10-week and 50-week moving averages. Currently, ARUN is doing battle with the former of these trendlines, which hasn't been surmounted on a weekly closing basis since mid-March. However, even if the stock topples trendline resistance, it could run into a wall in the overhead $16-$18 area. This neighborhood served as support in late 2011 and early 2012, but could now switch roles to act as resistance.
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