Option Bulls Pile Into Intel Ahead of Earnings

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Options are picking up steam ahead of Intel’s earnings report next week.

Yesterday, the July 31 calls lit up OptionMonster’s tracking systems as more than 155,000 contracts were bought, with most of the big chunks priced for $0.27 and $0.29. The volume was well above the previous positioning of about 40,000, so this was fresh buying.

Those calls lock in the price investors must pay for shares in the chip giant, so they could deliver some major leverage to the upside if the stock rallies. But if the stock drops or stands still, the calls will expire worthless.

Intel issues first-quarter results after the bell on Tuesday, April 17. Commentary from analysts has been active, and the stock has been running since last September when it was below $20. Yesterday, its shares closed at $27.45, down 1.12 percent on the session.

There was also selling in the May 30 and April 30 calls, so some of the buying in the July 31 contracts resulted from an existing position being rolled to the higher strike.

Overall Intel calls numbered almost 355,000 versus just 34,000 puts , a reflection of the session’s bullish sentiment on the name. Total option volume was six times greater than average.

—Najarian owns INTC shares.

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Pete Najarian is a professional investor, CNBC contributor, regular co-host of CNBC’s “Fast Money” and co-founder of OptionMonster.com.