Buzz Stocks: Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc, First Solar, Inc., and First Niagara Financial Group Inc.

Today's stocks to watch include Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX), First Solar, Inc. (FSLR), and First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (FNFG)

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Oct 30, 2015 at 10:29 AM

U.S. stocks are mixed this morning, as traders weigh the latest batch of earnings and economic reports. Among the equities in focus are pharmaceutical concern Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX), solar energy provider First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ:FSLR), and financial firm First Niagara Financial Group Inc. (NASDAQ:FNFG).

  • VRX is back in the news this morning, for all the wrong reasons. Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc are 6.4% lower at $104.39, after news surfaced that it has cut ties with Philidor amid accusations that it was a "phantom pharmacy" intended to simply boost the pharmaceutical firm's sales. Meanwhile, as planned, activist investor Bill Ackman is hosting a conference call to discuss his VRX stake, in which he panned the company's PR response to the latest accusations, while Pershing Square's David Klafter said they're taking the Philidor matter seriously. The shares of VRX have surrendered more than 40% in October, triggered by a brutal report from Citron Research. And speaking of short sellers, short interest spiked 81.5% during the past two reporting periods, though just 3.4% of the stock's float is sold short. 
  • FSLR is 10.3% higher at $56.20 -- territory not charted since May -- in reaction to the company's strong third-quarter earnings report. The company also forecast full-year earnings far ahead of analysts' estimates. This news is sure to please First Solar, Inc. option players, who have been buying to open calls at a rapid-fire rate. FSLR's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 1.72 on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) is higher than 79% of the readings taken in the past 52 weeks. Meanwhile, Cowen and Company lifted its price target to $75 from $65 -- in a neighborhood not explored since 2011 -- and BofA-Merrill Lynch hiked its target by $3 to $61.
  • FNFG is 0.4% higher at $10.41, after KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY) agreed to buy the firm for about $4.1 billion (subscription required). Prior to today, FNFG was sitting on a healthy year-to-date gain of more than 20%, yet analysts were skeptical. Of the 10 brokerage firms following First Niagara Financial Group Inc., just one doled out a "strong buy" rating.

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