Schaeffer's Trading Floor Blog
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As we near midday, three of the top market movers are infectious disease treatment specialist Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHN), clothing retailer Francesca's Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:FRAN), and synthetic vaccine concern Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NYSEMKT:INO). Here's a quick roundup of how this trio of names is performing on the charts so far.

  • ACHN has gained nearly 53% to trade at $6.50, bringing its year-to-date advance north of 95%. Sparking the rally was the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) decision to lift its clinical hold on a drug trial for the firm's hepatitis C treatment sovaprevir, leading to takeover chatter. Also, Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. received an upgrade to "market outperform" from "market perform" at JMP Securities earlier, and scored a price-target hike to $6 from $4 at Deutsche Bank. Despite the stock's long-term technical strength, 35.3% of the security's float is sold short -- which would take nearly three weeks to cover, at the equity's average daily trading volume. In other words, ACHN could soon benefit from a potential short-covering rally.

  • Following its disappointing fiscal first-quarter results and lackluster full-year guidance, FRAN has shed 13.2% to land at $13.27, and earlier touched a record low of $13.15. Additionally, the stock was recently hit with a pair of price-target reductions at Canaccord Genuity and Jefferies. With today's losses, Francesca's Holdings Corp is down nearly 28% in 2014. On Wall Street, however, sentiment is rosy. Eight out of 13 covering analysts have doled out "buy" or better ratings (compared to five "holds" and not a single "sell" recommendation), while the shares' consensus 12-month price target of $22.19 sits at a roughly 67% premium to the current price. If FRAN continues to struggle, a round of analyst downgrades and/or additional price-target cuts could exacerbate the security's losses.

  • Finally, INO has rallied nearly 10% to $11.83, after initiating an immune therapy trial for head and neck cancer caused by HPV. This technical tenacity is typical of the shares, which have more than quadrupled on a year-over-year basis. Nevertheless, 13.5% of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc's float is sold short, which would take 6.5 sessions to buy back, given the stock's average daily trading volume. In other words, as with ACHN, INO could be on the brink of a short-squeeze situation.

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