It's going to take more than the continued sales of Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) long-awaited iPhone 5 this month for the stock to climb back to the $700 high it finally hit last month. You had to look no further than the options market on Tuesday to see how bearish investors were about the stock.
As of Tuesday, (at the time of writing) options traders showed their nervousness about the continuous decline in the stock by piling into put contracts that expire this week. The puts most actively traded were October 615, October 620, October 625 and October 630 puts that expire Oct. 11. The volume for just these was more than 80,000. One thing missing from the options action was block trades, which indicates that short-term, retail investors may be trying to capitalize on the stock falling further.
During intraday trading Tuesday, Apple dipped to $623.55, indicating that it was in correction territory. It closed at $635.85. Given this, investors who want a bite at the apple and have the stomach to take on the risk should consider the options market. If you can tolerate the short time before expiration, options with Oct. 19 strike prices should be considered, along with this week's weekly options contracts mentioned above.
The $623.55 low is a new one Apple had not seen since August. Since hitting its all-time high of last month, the stock has declined 10%. It also has broken below its 50-day moving average, and dropped below its $600 billion market cap. All of this since it released what was supposed to be a smashingly successful iPhone 5.
Outside of an announcement or release of a mini-iPad, Apple TV, or some other gadget, I don't see anything that could trigger the stock returning to $700 in the near term. The next solid, bit of news that could drive the stock up is its fourth quarter earnings report, which is due to be released on Oct. 25.
Some investors and Apple lovers cringe when they hear this, but the iPhone 5 is a catch-up phone. It boasts features, such as LTE, that for at least a year were on other smartphones, such Samsung's Galaxy S III powered by Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android. Samsung is reporting strong sales of its flagship phone, and it's hard to dismiss some people choosing earlier in the year instead of waiting for the iPhone 5.
Then there is the embarrassing snafu over the maps application, which stirred more pundits who questioned if the world's most innovative company was losing its mojo. Even more, it was a big enough disappointment that company CEO Tim Cook addressed it with an apology.
In the days following the iPhone 5 going on sale, analysts pounced because the five million units sold was lower than the eight million that had been expected. This brings me to the issue over availability. On Monday, we learned that the iPhone 5's availability may be further impacted by continuous labor issues at Foxconn, the assembler of the iPhones in China.
By no means do I think that Apple is not a long-term buying opportunity. Instead, I see its stock's present performance falling victim to negative events that are spurring knee jerk reactions by many investors. Considering options is a play to capitalize on the stock's dip. It may not return to $700, but expect it to rally beyond this week's lows by the end of the month.