Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Rolls to New Highs After Drug Results

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is trading at all-time highs, yet there's still pessimism lingering on Wall Street

by Josh Selway

Published on Jun 6, 2016 at 10:28 AM

Unlike some of its smaller sector peers, blue-chip stock Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) is continuing its strong year-to-date performance today, adding 0.8% at $115.72, and earlier hitting a record high of $115.80, thanks to positive drug data. Specifically, patients receiving JNJ's drug for advanced multiple myeloma, Darzalex, combined with two other standard treatments, had better outcomes in a late-stage trial than those who received only the two other treatments. What's more, the company's Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit has entered into a research agreement with Amyris Inc (NASDAQ:AMRS). All in all, JNJ stock is now up 12.7% in 2016, which should be good news for options traders. 

Specifically, JNJ's 10-day call/put volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) comes in at 3.14, meaning call buying has more than tripled put buying in the past two weeks. Moreover, this reading sits just 2 percentage points from an annual high, showing an unusual call-bias among JNJ options traders. 

Digging deeper, peak open interest of more than 36,000 contracts resides at the front-month June 115 call. The stock's ability to power through this call-heavy level suggests not only impressive underlying strength, but also the potential for the shares to continue rising in the near term. 

There's still a decent bit of pessimism surrounding JNJ, too, that could help the stock move even higher. For starters, short sellers control almost four days' worth of pent-up buying power, at the stock's average pace of trading, despite a 20.6% drop in short interest during the last two reporting periods. Additional short covering could serve as a near-term boon.

What's more, half of the analysts covering Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) say it's a "hold" or worse. JNJ stock could get a boost if this pessimism begins to unwind, in the form of future upgrades.

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