Study Says It's Not Too Late to Buy Options For VRTX Stock

Near-term volatility expectations are low for Vertex Pharmaceuticals

by Josh Selway

Published on Mar 5, 2018 at 12:52 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

Drug stock Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:VRTX) is trading up 0.6% today at $171.16 thanks to a price-target hike to $200 from $195 at Maxim. This puts the shares on pace for their second ever close atop $170, the first coming on Feb. 1 when VRTX touched an all-time high of $174.96 after the company's promising earnings release. The equity is now up over 14% on a year-to-date basis, and could still hold value for options traders.

Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rock White has compiled a list stocks trading near their 52-week high yet have unusually low volatility expectations, measured by our Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI). The most recent study produced 10 names, including Vertex, as its SVI of 30% ranks in the low 13th percentile, suggesting it could be a good time to target near-term options contracts.

For what it's worth, the shares flashed a similar "signal" one other time since 2008. A month later VRTX was up 12.4%.

Sentiment is already bullish across Wall Street, though. Call buying has more than quadrupled put buying during the past 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), with calls accounting for the top four open positions on Vertex Pharmaceuticals. Specifically, the April 165 and 160 calls take the top two spots, followed by the March 175 call. There's also notable open interest at the out-of-the-money April 190 call.

This upbeat outlook is shared by analysts. Twenty of the 22 brokerages in coverage have "buy" ratings on VRTX, and the average 12-month price target is $192.24 -- implying upside of more than 12% from current levels.

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