Option traders are betting that IMAX is ready to stage a comeback.
More than 5,000 March 23 calls were purchased against open interest of just 1,008 contracts yesterday. Most of them went for $0.85 in a single large block, according to OptionMonster's real-time tracking systems.
These long calls lock in the price investors must pay for the digital-theater company's stock, and they have the potential to deliver major leverage if IMAX rips higher. If it doesn't, however, they will expire worthless.
IMAX shares started climbing shortly after the options traded, ending the day up 4.75 percent to $21.84. The stock rallied more than tenfold between late 2008 and mid-2011 before losing almost two-thirds of its value. But it has been working its way higher since early in the fourth quarter.
The company's last earnings report on Oct. 27 missed estimates, but investors focused on its aggressive growth plans. IMAX has remade itself by focusing on imaging technology rather than cumbersome equipment and has been rapidly expanding its footprint of cinemas in the U.S. and abroad.
Overall option volume was 14 times greater than average in the name yesterday, with calls outnumbering puts by 23 to 1.
—Russell has no positions in IMAX.
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David Russell is a reporter and writer for .