2 Biotech Stocks Making Big Moves on Drug News

CTI BioPharma Corp (CTIC) and Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (OREX) are moving in opposite directions after revealing drug news

Mar 15, 2016 at 10:55 AM
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As battered Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) sinks to multi-year lows, two other biotech stocks -- CTI BioPharma Corp (NASDAQ:CTIC) and Orexigen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:OREX) -- are making big moves on drugs news. Here's a look at what's moving CTIC and OREX today.

CTIC is trading 7.5% higher at $0.57 today after the company said it has been in communication with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make its myelofibrosis treatment, pacritinib, available to certain patients. A trial of the drug was put on hold last month, after the FDA noted detrimental effects on patients, sending the stock tumbling 73% over the course of three sessions to hit a record low of $0.25.

Given CTIC's penny-stock status, it's no surprise to find that analysts are overwhelmingly bearish. Two brokerage firms rate the equity a "hold," and one a "strong sell," without a single "buy" rating in sight. And short interest climbed 14.1% during the two most recent reporting periods to account for more than 8% of CTIC's available float. Today's pop suggests the stock is benefiting from some short-squeeze activity -- though CTIC will likely need to make up a lot more ground on the charts to win over skeptical analysts.

OREX began the day with a pop 17% higher on news that the company bought the U.S. rights to the obesity drug Contrave from Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, as well as an agreement to sell the drug through VRX in Europe. However, OREX declined to specify sales guidance for the treatment. 

The shares have reversed course from their early gains, and were last seen down 5.5% at $0.66. With the stock just barely higher from its March 11 record low of $0.61, only one of the six analysts following OREX rates it a "buy."

And short interest, despite an 8% decline over the past two reporting periods, still accounts for nearly 16% of the equity's total float -- or 9.1 times OREX's average daily trading volume. In light of the stock's quick reversal, it certainly doesn't seem that these bears were spooked by today's news.

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