Options Bears Are Piling On These 2 Drug Stocks Ahead of Earnings

Short interest is rising fast on Horizon Pharma

Aug 4, 2017 at 10:54 AM
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The healthcare sector is one group that'll see plenty of attention next week, given the earnings schedule. Two drug companies that will be releasing quarterly reports are Depomed Inc (NASDAQ:DEPO) and Horizon Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:HZNP), and based on recent options data, it would appear many traders are bracing for more losses from each stock. Let's take a closer look at DEPO and HZNP ahead of earnings next week. 

Options Traders Target $10 Level for Depomed Stock

Shares of Depomed have been grinding lower over the past year, losing more than half their value and touching a three-year low of $9.38 on June 13. At last check, DEPO was trading at $9.73, and data suggests traders are betting on more losses in the near term.

Specifically, the equity has a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.87 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Not only does this show nearly three long puts have been opened for every call, but the ratio sits just 6 percentage points from an annual peak. Clearly, there's an unusual preference for bearish options bets over bullish. 

Digging deeper, the August and September 10 puts have seen the two largest increases in open interest during the past 10 days. Anyone buying to open these contracts is hoping Depomed holds in single-digit territory in the weeks ahead. Overall, the options market is pricing in a 8.6% swing for DEPO shares for Tuesday's session (the company reports after the close on Monday), compared to the stock's average single-session post-earnings swing of 6%, going back eight quarters. 

Short Sellers Increase their Bets on HZNP Stock

Horizon Pharma stock has also been a disappointment on the charts, shedding 37.3% year-over-year to trade at $12.15, due mostly to major bear gaps in December and May. With the shares now running into their 80-day moving average -- a trendline that's acted as stiff resistance since January -- options traders have decided to focus on puts over calls.

That is, HZNP has a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.93 at the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, which ranks in the 99th annual percentile. The most popular front-month option during this time span, based on open interest levels, was the August 13 put, where noteworthy buy-to-open action has taken place. So, traders are betting on Horizon Pharma moving further below the $13 level before the close on Friday, Aug. 18, when the contracts expire. 

With the company set to report earnings before the open on Monday, the options market is pricing in a single-day swing of 11.5%. Over the past eight quarters, HZNP stock has averaged a post-earnings move of 13.6%, in either direction. 

Options traders aren't the only ones taking a bearish stance on HZNP. Short interest jumped 23% over the last two reporting periods, and now accounts for almost 13% of the stock's float. Going by average daily volumes, this equates to more than a week's worth of buying power. 

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