What do you make of the large open interest of 30 or better on Oct/ Jan 15 & Jan 16 call options? With the large buys during the last 3 week, I tend to think were going up and many shorts may be hedging their positions. Also the Jan 15. 22 calls are selling for an 8 cent premium.
I have seen a lot of the activity you are describing. The mixture of sentiments is hard to unravel. I think it is generally arbitrage related.
IMO, I think the bulk of the trading might be related to arbitraging ... especially with option CONVERSIONS and variations of that strategy. If so, the impact is rather neutral. I suspect that the arbitrager is either the options market maker OR someone who is using option purchases to guide the hedging of the OMM to buy/sell/short stock.
Low premium indicates "sellers" so people are selling calls which I view as neutral to bearish. That drives the premium and stock beta down.
I think that Intel would normally carry a short interest between 50m and 80m shares. They also have convertible long term debt and I have seen this before ... where the convertible note buyers eventually short the stock against their bonds to eliminate all risk with a guaranteed (lower) return. Convertible bond buyers effectively have the face value, interest and dropping conversion price and today ... .120m shares will be generated with the conversion.
With 50m to 80m as a bottom short number, then there is an extra 100m short. How many of those 100m excess shorts are from the convertible notes? I don't know but a large number of those notes were purchased by hedge funds (insidermonkey).