Pharma Stock's Bull Signal Has Never Been Wrong

Options players have already been incredibly bullish on IONS

by Lillian Currens

Published on Jan 23, 2020 at 12:37 PM
Updated on Jun 24, 2020 at 10:16 AM

Biotech concern Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IONS) is cooling off, along with the broader market, just one day after the well-received release of its mid-stage study for AKCEA-APOCII-LRx in patients with cardiovascular disease sent the stock soaring, before running out of steam at familiar resistance near its 180-day moving average. While the stock is off 1% to trade at $60.56, it just pulled back to a long-term trendline that, if history is any indicator, could give IONS a big boost.

The trendline in question is IONS' 20-month moving average, with three similar signals occurring during the past 15 years, according to data from Schaeffer's Senior Quantitative Analyst Rocky White. Four weeks after each signal, Ionis averaged a 13.27% return. From its current perch, a similar move would put the equity at $68.60, which is well atop the aforementioned 180-day moving average, and represents a region IONS hasn't touched since late-August. 

IONS Chart Jan 23

Drilling down, the options pits have been swarming with bulls lately, as seen at the the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), where 6.46 calls have been bought for every put during the past 10 days. What's more, this ratio sits in the 72nd percentile of its annual range, suggesting calls have been unusually popular.

For those looking to jump on this bullish bandwagon, options are incredibly cheap right now. In fact, the equity's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 37% is lower than all but 9% of all other readings from the past year. This means options are pricing in extremely low volatility expectations right now. 


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