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Biotech stock Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:QCOR - 51.85) has established a reputation as a technical standout, with the shares boasting a 52-week gain of more than 80%. In 2012 alone, QCOR has rallied 20.5%, and the stock hit a new all-time high of $58.91 in early July. While the security has spent the past couple of months consolidating, one bullish bettor expects QCOR to continue its breakout price action during the near term.
During Monday's session, two blocks totaling 2,000 October 55 calls traded near the ask price, suggesting they were purchased. Simultaneously, two matching blocks of 2,000 October 60 calls were exchanged at the bid price, indicating they were sold. Open interest at both strikes rose by just over 2,000 contracts overnight, so it's safe to assume these were all newly opened contracts.
By initiating this long call spread, the speculator is betting that QCOR will close at or above $60 per share by the time October-dated options expire. The spread was opened for a net debit of $0.88, which doubles as the trader's maximum potential loss. This worst-case scenario will be realized if QCOR settles at or below $55 upon back-month expiration.
On the other hand, the spread will start to return a profit on a move above breakeven at $55.88. Should the shares rally to $60 or above prior to the close on Friday, Oct. 19, the strategy will return a maximum profit of $4.12 -- or the difference between the two strikes, less the net debit.
Technically speaking, QCOR bounced from support near its 320-day moving average back in early August, and has since broken out above short-term resistance at its 50-day trendline. Now the shares are trading just north of their ascending 10-day moving average, which has highlighted QCOR's ascent since Aug. 6.
In today's session, QCOR has jumped more than 3% after a price-target hike to $69 from $59 at Oppenheimer. Just last Friday, the stock scored a similarly bullish note from Lazard.