Buzz Stocks: Intercept Pharma, Gilead, Manitowoc Company

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (ICPT), Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD), and Manitowoc Company Inc (MTW)

Jan 30, 2015 at 9:21 AM
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Futures are pointed sharply lower this morning, as traders react to fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) data. Meanwhile, among specific equities in focus are drugmakers Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) and Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), as well as big machinery manufacturer Manitowoc Company Inc (NYSE:MTW).

  • ICPT is nearly 28% higher in electronic trading -- and on pace to fill its early November bear gap -- after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the firm's lead treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), obeticholic acid, with "breakthrough therapy designation." The stock has done well in 2015, tacking on 9.4% to trade at $170.69, yet sentiment is skewed toward the skeptical side. At 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 1.04 ranks in the 74th annual percentile. Elsewhere, nearly 23% of Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc's float is sold short, and would take nearly a week to cover, at ICPT's average daily trading volume.

  • GILD is also up ahead of the bell, after the FDA approved a pair of fixed-dose HIV drugs -- one produced by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and one by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY) -- that use a boosting agent developed by the biopharmaceutical firm. On the charts, GILD has been charting a path higher over the past 52 weeks, adding nearly 28% to linger at $104.18. Not surprisingly, short-term speculators have shown a preference for calls over puts, as evidenced by the security's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.67, which ranks lower than 73% of similar readings taken in the past year. This optimism is shared elsewhere on the Street, as well, with 76% of covering analysts maintaining a "buy" or better rating. Looking ahead, Gilead Sciences, Inc. is slated to take its turn in the earnings confessional after next Tuesday's close.

  • Amid pressure from activist investors -- including Carl Icahn -- MTW announced it is splitting itself into two separate companies, one for its crane manufacturing business, and one for its food service division. The news came as the firm also unveiled its fourth-quarter earnings report. On the charts, the equity has had a dreary start to the year, down 12.9% at $19.24. Against this backdrop, options traders have been placing bearish bets over bullish at a faster-than-usual clip, per Manitowoc Company Inc's 10-day ISE/CBOE/PHLX put/call volume ratio of 0.80, which ranks in the 60th annual percentile. Echoing this is the security's SOIR of 0.77, which ranks higher than 85% of similar readings taken in the past year. Ahead of the bell, MTW is pointed 4.5% higher.

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