Buzz Stocks: Merck & Co., Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb Co, and BlackBerry Ltd

Today's stocks to watch in the news include MRK, BMY, and BBRY

by Karee Venema

Published on Dec 8, 2014 at 9:16 AM
Updated on Apr 20, 2015 at 5:32 PM

Futures are pointed lower this morning, as traders digest disappointing economic data from overseas. Back on the homefront, specific equities in focus are pharmaceutical firms Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY), as well as smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY).

  • MRK has agreed to purchase Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:CBST) for $8.4 billion, or $102 per share, with the former assuming all of the latter's $1.1 billion in debt. On the charts, Merck & Co., Inc. has tacked on nearly 23% this year, and tagged an 11-year peak of $61.77 on Friday, before settling at $61.49. Short-term speculators, meanwhile, have shown a preference for puts over calls, as evidenced by the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.26, which ranks just 7 percentage points below a 52-week peak. Ahead of the bell, MRK is 0.2% lower, while CBST has surged 36%.

  • After closing Friday at $60.65 -- up almost 28% from its mid-October low of $47.54 -- BMY has tacked on 0.3% in pre-market trading. This comes after the company said its lymphoma drug, nivolumab, showed promise in an early stage trial. Should the stock continue its positive momentum, a round of upgrades and/or price-target hikes could help propel Bristol-Myers Squibb Co higher. Of the 17 analysts currently covering the outperforming equity, eight maintain a "hold" or "strong sell" recommendation. Plus, the consensus 12-month price target of $56.58 stands at a discount to present trading levels.

  • BBRY is up 2% ahead of the bell -- poised to add to its roughly 44% year-to-date advance -- after the firm launched a new cancer genome browser with health care data provider NantHealth. The browser is fully encrypted, and allows doctors to access patient information on the BlackBerry Passport. Despite BlackBerry Ltd's impressive technical showing, the stock is surrounded by skeptics. Short interest, for example, accounts for almost 21% of the stock's available float, representing nearly six sessions' worth of pent-up buying demand, at typical daily trading levels. Elsewhere, 95% of covering analysts maintain a "hold" or worse suggestion, and the average 12-month price target of $10.83 is just a chip-shot away from Friday's close at $10.68. An unwinding of this bearish sentiment could translate into a fresh burst of buying power.

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