3 Big Biotech Movers: VTAE, ACRX, and CLVS

Vitae Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:VTAE), AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ACRX), and Clovis Oncology Inc (NASDAQ:CLVS) are just three biotechs making notable moves today

Sep 9, 2015 at 12:15 PM
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It's a big day on the biotech front, with sector components Akebia Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:AKBA) and Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:TTPH) making massive moves in decidedly different directions. Other notable names seeing hefty swings on the charts are Vitae Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:VTAE), AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ACRX), and Clovis Oncology Inc (NASDAQ:CLVS).

VTAE has nearly doubled to trade at $15.59, after the company's autoimmune drug, VTP-43742, showed promise in an early stage study. Today's bull gap has the shares trading at a two-month high -- and on pace to close north of their 160-day moving average for the first time since July 1.

While analysts are enamored with Vitae Pharmaceuticals Inc -- all three covering the shares maintain a "strong buy" recommendation -- short sellers have been increasing their bearish presence of late. In fact, over the last two reporting periods, short interest jumped 22.7%, and now accounts for nearly 10% of the equity's available float.

ACRX also unveiled upbeat drug news today, saying its experimental pain drug, ARX-04, was successful in a late-stage study. The stock initially jumped 18% on the news, but was last seen lingering 2.9% below breakeven at $3.97. Longer term, the shares have surrendered 41% year-to-date.

Short-term option traders have shown a preference for calls over puts, per AcelRx Pharmaceuticals Inc's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.19. Not only does this show that call open interest easily outweighs put open interest among options expiring in three months or less, but it also ranks lower than 65% of all comparable readings taken in the past year.

CLVS is following its sector peers higher -- up 16.4% at $98.25. Although no news in particular seems to be driving the stock, Goldman Sachs yesterday said it was a "correction buy" with "meaningful upside." Thanks to today's pop, the shares are 75.4% higher on the year, and within a chip-shot of their May 14 all-time peak of $102.28.

Should Clovis Oncology Inc continue to add to its year-to-date gains, a short-covering rally could add fuel to its fire. Short interest accounts for 15.2% of the security's available float, translating into 8.5 days' worth of pent-up buying demand, at the average daily trading volume.

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