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Microsoft's Moment of Truth

Microsoft
Photo by: Robert Scoble

With minutes to go before Microsoft's big earnings release, why are options traders suddenly getting bullish on this lumbering tech giant?

Option prices are implying a 4.5% move in the post-market for Microsoft, slightly more than its historical average of 4%.

Could cash be on traders' mind?

The software maker sits on a pile of nearly $40 billion, and some investors are hoping for either a huge dividend or a massive buyback to lift the moribund shares.

But it's Ballmer's future that could really jazz the stock.

"One of the fears investors have is that Ballmer will make a transformative transition instead of returning that money to investors," said Dan Nathan, "Options Action" contributor and Phoenix Partners' Chief Derivative Strategist. "If he were to step down, that fear gets resolved."

Either way, options traders seem to betting on a move to the upside, with call activity centering around the 26- and 27-strike in both the weekly and July expiry.

Questions, comments send them to us at: optionsaction@cnbc.com

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