×

How a trader just made $2.4 million in half an hour

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify the timeline of the trade in the context of a tweet and a Dow Jones Newswire headline.

In a very well-timed trade, a trader made over $2 million in just 28 minutes, playing what could be one of the biggest tech deals this year.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that Intel was in talks to buy competitor chipmaker Altera. Shares of Altera soared 28 percent when the report was released, valuing the company at $13.4 billion by the end of trading on Friday.

For one trader, the news event allowed for incredible profits in a very short amount of time.

At 3:32:38 p.m. ET, a Dow Jones headline crossed the newswire reporting that Intel was in talks to buy Altera. Within the same second, a trader jumped into the options market and aggressively bought calls. The buying centered around the April 36-strike call, where 3,158 call contracts were purchased for around 35 cents each just before the stock was halted at 3:32:56.

Within the same minute, at 3:32:58, Journal M&A reporter Dana Mattioli tweeted about the story.

Dana Mattioli ✔ @DanaMattioli
Intel is in talks to buy Altera. Deal would be largest in Intel's history. Scoop w/ @danacimilluca coming to http://WSJ.com $ALTR

Once Altera reopened for trading at 3:37, it soared into the end of the trading day, closing 28 percent higher than it traded just a half hour before the close and creating instant riches for the owner of those calls.

The April 36-strike calls that were bought for 35 cents dramatically increased in value, and by the close of trading were worth $8.10. Since a call contract controls one hundred shares, the owner of those call was looking at a paper profit of close to $2.5 million, or a return of 2200 percent.

According to CNBC contributor Mike Khouw, the buyer of these calls was likely using an automated trading program.

"A bot is not as outlandish as it sounds," Khouw said. "Traders need to aggregate and filter through tremendous amounts of data quickly and will rely on technology to help if it is available."

Should the deal in fact occur, it would be the largest-ever acquisition for Intel.

Neither Intel nor Altera has responded to requests for comment by CNBC.

An Altera display at a trade show last year.
Source: Altera
An Altera display at a trade show last year.

Latest Video

Tutorials

Host Bio

  • Melissa Lee

    Melissa Lee is the host of CNBC's “Fast Money” and “Options Action.”

Options Action Traders

From Our Sponsor

Options Action Newsletter:

Sign up to receive exclusive Options Action content. Each month you'll receive an exclusive message from host Melissa Lee and insight directly from one of the members of our Options Action panel. Keep your pulse on the market with the Options Action newsletter.

Please enter a valid email address
To learn more about how we use your information, please read our Privacy Policy.