Buzz Stocks: UnitedHealth, Teva Pharma, Horizon Pharma

Today's stocks to watch in the news include UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (TEVA), and Horizon Pharma PLC (HZNP)

Mar 30, 2015 at 9:41 AM
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U.S. benchmarks are following their European counterparts into the green today. Meanwhile, M&A Monday is in full swing, with healthcare concern UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH), as well as drugmakers Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:TEVA) and Horizon Pharma PLC (NASDAQ:HZNP) unveiling new acquisitions.

  • UNH is up 4% at the open -- and hit a fresh record high of $123.76 -- after the blue chip said it will purchase pharmacy benefit manager Catamaran Corp (USA) (NASDAQ:CTRX) in a deal valued at roughly $12.8 billion, or $61.50 per CTRX share. CTRX, meanwhile, has soared 24.6% to its own all-time peak of $60.24. Today's price move for UNH is more of the same, with the stock boasting a 50% year-over-year lead. Should UnitedHealth Group Inc. continue this momentum, another round of upbeat analyst attention could be on the horizon. Currently, the average 12-month price target for UNH sits at $127.19, just 3.5% from the equity's current perch at $122.87.

  • TEVA, meanwhile, announced it will acquire biotherapeutic firm Auspex Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ASPX) for about $3.2 billion in cash, or $101 per share of ASPX. This represents a roughly 42.4% premium to the latter's close at $70.91 on Friday. Technically speaking shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd have put in a solid performance this month, adding 10% thus far. Additionally, the stock hit a multi-year peak last Monday, but was last seen trading at $62.79. In the options pits, put buying has picked up speed in recent weeks. Specifically, TEVA's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio has jumped to 0.74 from 0.06 over the past two weeks, and now ranks in the 69th annual percentile.

  • HZNP will increase its portfolio for treating genetic disorders with its roughly $1.1 billion purchase of Hyperion Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:HPTX). This equates to about $46 per share of HPTX, which closed Friday at $42.74. HZNP is up 14.2% out of the gate -- and hit its highest perch on record of $25.50 in early trading. However, the stock has already put in a strong showing in 2015 -- thanks in part to a stellar quarterly earnings report in late February -- tacking on 93% to trade at $24.91. Against this backdrop, sentiment is skewed toward the bullish side. At the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, Horizon Pharma PLC's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 6.38 rests higher than 79% of similar readings taken in the past year. Additionally, five analysts have levied a "strong buy" rating toward the equity, versus one "hold" and not a single "sell."

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