Buzz Stocks: AbbVie, Achillion, Caesars Entertainment

Today's stocks to watch in the news include ABBV, ACHN, and CZR

Dec 22, 2014 at 9:01 AM
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After concluding their best week in years, U.S. stocks are set to kick off a holiday-shortened week on a merry note. Among the equities in focus are drugmakers AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV) and Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ACHN), as well as casino concern Caesars Entertainment Corp (NASDAQ:CZR).

  • ABBV is pointed 3% higher ahead of the bell, after inking an exclusive deal with Express Scripts Holding Company (NASDAQ:ESRX). Specifically, ESRX said its biggest plan will cover only ABBV's newly approved Viekira Pak hepatitis C treatment, and will exclude similar treatments from Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), among others. As such, AbbVie Inc shares could explore record-high territory north of $71, extending their year-to-date surplus of more than 28%. What's more, an unwinding of pessimism in the options pits could add fuel to the equity's fire. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the equity's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.78 stands just 6 percentage points from an annual bearish peak. On Friday, ABBV settled at $67.71.

  • Meanwhile, fellow biotech concern ACHN is set to soar 11% out of the gate, thanks to encouraging data on its own hepatitis C treatment. Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has outperformed the S&P 500 Index (SPX) by nearly 22 percentage points during the past three months, landing at $14.21 on Friday. The stock has more than quadrupled in value in 2014, so it's no surprise to find nine out of 10 analysts offer up "strong buy" opinions. However, the consensus 12-month price target of $13.22 stands at a discount to ACHN's current perch, suggesting price-target hikes could be on the horizon.

  • Finally, CZR was temporarily halted in pre-market trading, upon announcing an all-stock deal to buy Caesars Acquisition Company (NASDAQ:CACQ). The shares of CZR have since resumed electronic trading, and are headed for a 24% jump at the opening bell. Caesars Entertainment Corp has struggled in 2014, surrendering 37.4% to finish at $13.49 on Friday. In light of today's merger news, a mass exodus of bears could propel CZR even higher. Short interest accounts for 42% of the stock's total available float, representing 13 sessions' worth of pent-up buying demand, at CZR's average pace of trading. Plus, not one of the four analysts following the shares deems them worthy of a "buy" endorsement.

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