After the swift sell-off in growth stocks, semiconductor exchange traded funds are in the negative for the year, and some traders are betting on further weakness ahead.
Over the past week, the Market Vectors Semiconductor ETF (NYSEArca: SMH) decreased 5.6% and the iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (NasdaqGM: SOXX) declined 6.2%. Year-to-date, SMH dipped 1.7% and SOXX fell 1.4%, moving toward their first negative quarter in 10 quarters.
Looking at recent put trades – bearish options that provide a buyer the right to sell shares at a specific price on a future date, two large trades that totaled 110,000 contracts, or 17 times daily average, stood out with one big trader taking on a new spread trade by moving a bearish position one month out and with a slightly lower strike price, reports Lawrence Lewitinn for CNBC.
Specifically, a bearish trader had a $7 million bet that SMH would fall at least 4.6% over the next two months through May 53-strike puts. [Professional Unwind Could Deck Chip ETFs]
Some larger traders may be betting on the downside in the event that there would be further pressure in the semiconductors sector through this earnings season.
The semiconductors sector also failed to rebound Friday along with the broader positive gains. Consequently, Steve Grasso, director of institutional sales at Stuart Frankel, warned that the industry is a “no touch” for now, reports Bret Kenwell for TheStreet. SMH was down 0.1% Friday while SOXX was flat.
ETF investors have quickly exited the sector over the past week. For instance, SMH, which now has $135.3 million in assets, witnessed $254.9 million in outflows so far this week while SOXX only saw $9.4 million in outflows, according to ETF.com.