Buzz Stocks: Apple, Orexigen Therapeutics, Calithera

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Apple Inc. (AAPL), Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (OREX), and Calithera Biosciences Inc (CALA)

Mar 6, 2015 at 9:21 AM
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Despite nonfarm payrolls surging more than expected in February -- and the unemployment rate dropping to 5.5% -- U.S. equities appear headed for a choppy end to the week. In company news, today's stocks to watch include iPad parent Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), as well as biopharmaceutical firms Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:OREX) and Calithera Biosciences Inc (NASDAQ:CALA).

  • Ahead of the bell, S&P Dow Jones Indices has announced AAPL will be added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average this month, replacing AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T). Meanwhile, in advance of next Monday's Apple Watch event, AAPL's mobile payment system is reportedly being used by scammers to purchase expensive items -- especially at Apple Store locations. Criminals are supposedly setting up Apple Pay accounts with stolen credit card data, helped by a relatively lax cardholder verification process. Technically speaking, the company's stock is a long-term outperformer, advancing nearly 67% year-over-year to perch at $126.41, after hitting a record high of $133.60 on Feb. 24. As such, the brokerage bunch is firmly behind Apple Inc., with 24 of 30 analysts doling out "buy" or better recommendations. Ahead of the bell, the shares are up 1.5%.

  • OREX shot higher earlier this week -- and hit a four-year high -- on positive results for its obesity drug Contrave. However, in an interview with Forbes, one top Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official called the study into question, describing the data as "highly unreliable" and "likely false." As such, Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. -- which closed at $8.01 yesterday -- is pointed 12.2% lower ahead of the bell. This is good news for short sellers. One-third of OREX's float is dedicated to short interest, roughly equivalent to 30.5 times the stock's average daily trading volume.

  • Finally, CALA is ready to surge 34.5% of the gate, after the company inked a global licensing deal with TransTech Pharma. The agreement gives Calithera Biosciences Inc the rights to develop and commercialize a pair of hexokinase II inhibitors, which can be used to slow tumor growth. A gap higher would represent a change of pace for the shares, which have tumbled 34.1% year-to-date to trade at $13.31. This could put pressure on shorts, too. Short interest on CALA jumped 13% during the latest reporting period, and now accounts for 6% of the stock's total float. At average daily trading volumes, it would take about two weeks to cover these bearish bets.

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