Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, Celgene Corporation Highlight Sector Weakness

BMY and CELG are just two of the many drugs stocks that have struggled on the charts

Jan 26, 2017 at 1:23 PM
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Unlike sector peer Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:VRTX), Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) and Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) are both struggling today after earnings. Also, when looking more broadly at the stocks' respective sectors -- drugs and biomedics/genetics -- it's clear that this is par for the course. In fact, our internal Sector Scorecard identifies these sectors as two of the weakest on Wall Street.

Of the 38 drug stocks we follow, the average year-over-year return is negative 6.7%. Plus, less than one-quarter of these names are perched atop their 80-day moving average. Meanwhile, the biomedics sector's woes are reflected in the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index ETF (IBB), which is more or less flat on a year-over-year basis -- lagging the broader market considerably.

Honing in on BMY, the shares are down 4.8% at $47.18, and earlier touched a two-year low of $47.09. As alluded to, the drugmaker disappointed in the earnings booth, with its first profit miss in at least eight quarters, as well as a lowered 2017 forecast. Brokerage firm Leerink said it assumes the outlook cut is due to forex pressures and increased competition related to BMY's immuno-oncology treatment, Opdivo.

Worse yet, the stock is vulnerable from a contrarian perspective. Despite underperforming on the charts, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's 50-day call/put volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) stands at a top-heavy 2.81 -- in the 86th annual percentile, meaning calls have been bought to open over puts at a faster-than-usual clip. An unwinding of these bulls could trigger more headwinds. In addition, the shares could get hit with downgrades, considering nearly half of the analysts tracking them have handed out a "buy" or better endorsement.

CELG is in a similar spot. The stock is down 1.4% at $112.37 on a poorly received earnings report, continuing a descent from its early November highs. On the flip side, the shares have been much more solid long term, up 9.8% year-over-year. Plus, CEO Mark Alles said he believes tax reform under the Trump administration could provide a "significant benefit" to the healthcare industry, and is "guardedly optimistic" overall.

From a sentiment perspective, Celgene Corporation needs to right its ship quickly. If the current downtrend persists, it could trigger a round of bearish brokerage notes, considering 15 of 17 analysts rate the stock a "strong buy" -- with not a single "sell" opinion to be found. Not to mention, a nearly negligible 1.1% of the equity's float is sold short, despite being up 6.4% in the most recent reporting period, so there's plenty more room for short sellers to pile on.

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