Buzz Stocks: Charter, BioCryst, and Lorillard, Inc.

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Charter Communications, Inc. (CHTR), BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (BCRX), and Lorillard Inc. (LO)

Mar 31, 2015 at 9:22 AM
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U.S. benchmarks are poised to pare a portion of yesterday's massive gains, with futures pointed lower on the last day of the first quarter. Among specific equities in focus are cable service provider Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR), drug developer BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:BCRX), and tobacco titan Lorillard Inc. (NYSE:LO).

  • M&A activity ruled the Street on Monday, and today it's CHTR in the spotlight. The company announced it will purchase Bright House Networks for roughly $10 billion. The deal will allow the latter's owner, Advance Newhouse, to become the former's biggest shareholder, and is contingent upon U.S. regulators approving the merger between Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX). The news is being well-received, with shares of CHTR up 6.9% in electronic trading -- and headed for a fresh record high. Longer term, Charter Communications, Inc. has added 48.9% over the past 52 weeks, and settled last night at $183.39. In the options pits, long calls have been popular, per CHTR's 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) call/put volume ratio of 4.37, which ranks in the 76th annual percentile.

  • BCRX is also signaling a strong start, with the shares 6.2% higher ahead of the bell. Stoking the buying power is news the firm landed a multi-million-dollar contract with the U.S. government to continue advancing possible treatments for various viral diseases, including Ebola. On the charts, the security has been making a series of lower lows throughout 2015 -- translating into a loss of 29.5% -- and closed Monday at $8.57. Against this backdrop, sentiment has been skewed toward the skeptical side. At the ISE, CBOE, and PHLX, BCRX's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.53 rests higher than 90% of all similar readings taken in the past year. Elsewhere, although short interest plunged 17% in the latest reporting period, it still accounts for a lofty 23.9% of BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc.'s float.

  • LO is down 2.5% in pre-market trading, amid speculation the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is looking to block the merger between the tobacco company and its peer Reynolds American, Inc. (NYSE:RAI). The reports are unconfirmed, and a meeting between LO, RAI, and federal regulators is rumored to be slated for this week. Since taking a sharp bounce off their 160-day moving average in mid-October, shares of LO have added 15.5% to trade at $66.42. However, today's projected price move could have the equity testing support atop its 80-day moving average. Options traders, meanwhile, have shown a preference for puts over calls among contracts expiring in three months or less. Specifically, Lorillard Inc.'s Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.59 ranks in the 68th percentile of its annual range.

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