Even with Short Interest Surging, Analysts Love HRTX Stock

Evercore ISI is the latest brokerage firm to initiate bullish

Apr 5, 2018 at 2:23 PM
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Heron Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HRTX) just popped up in a study run by Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White, that looks for stocks that are trading near 52-week highs, yet have low Schaeffer's Volatility Indexes (SVI). A closer look at the drugmaker revealed some notable trends. For instance, analysts love HRTX stock, but short interest has exploded to new highs.

Digging into the specifics, there are 10 brokerage firms tracking Heron -- and every single one says to buy the shares. Moreover, the average 12-month price target is $39.17. The equity was last seen trading at $28.15, meaning analysts are pricing in a nearly 39% premium at the moment. Strengthening this point, Evercore ISI this morning initiated coverage with an "outperform" rating and a $56 price target.

The drug stock hasn't traded above $56 in over 10 years, but if the recent price trend continues it may reach that lofty target sooner than later. In just the last year alone HRTX has more than doubled in value, hitting a two-year high of $32.70 back on March 19 thanks to upbeat drug data. Since then the shares have pulled back slightly to consolidate atop the $27 level.

But this rapid ascension on the charts has caught the attention of short sellers. During the last two reporting periods short interest has increased by almost 25%, putting 7.8 million shares in the hands of short sellers -- the most since at least 2002. Going by average daily volumes, it would take more than six sessions to cover these positions.

Options traders haven't paid much attention to HRTX, but any interested speculators should note the unusually low SVI we alluded to earlier. This reading of 52% is just 10 percentage points from an annual low. In other words, near-term options are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations at the moment.

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