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Options Bulls Pick Apple Stock After Raymond James Predicts 20% Growth

Lillian Currens

A bull note from Raymond James had Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) trading at a brand-new all-time high of $240.28 today, and it was up 1.5% at $239.90 at last check. The analyst lifted its target price to a Street high of $280 from $250 -- a roughly 20% premium to Friday's close -- foreseeing "more stable near-term conditions" ahead of the company's iPhone 11 and SE model releases early next year.

The options pits are already swarming with bullish activity as a result, with 125,000 calls across the tape so far -- almost twice the amount expected -- compared to 95,000 puts that have exchanged hands. The brunt of this activity is taking place at the weekly 10/25 240- and 242.50-strike calls, where contracts are likely being bought to open. This means traders are possibly betting on more upside for AAPL by the time these positions expire at the end of this week, Friday, Oct. 25. 

This tendency towards bullish bets is nothing new for the FAANG name. Last Friday, we mentioned the security's position atop Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White's list of stocks that have attracted the highest weekly options volume, with calls outpacing puts overall during the last two weeks.

Despite all of this, options are still cheap. Apple's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 28% sits in the 34th percentile of its annual range, implying that near-term option traders are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations. 

Circling back to analyst sentiment, more members of the brokerage bunch could be following Raymond James' lead. Despite a 51.7% year-to-date lead, 11 of the 29 in coverage still call AAPL a "hold." What's more, the consensus 12-month target price of $230.95 is now at a discount to current levels. 

AAPL Oct 21