Papa, Pearson Go to Bat For Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX)

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (VRX) is recovering from Wednesday's bloodbath, following comments from CEO Joseph Papa

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Jul 14, 2016 at 10:46 AM

Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) tanked yesterday after being called an "obvious zero" by Andrew Left of Citron Research. Left's remarks came in response to reports that former Valeant CEO J. Michael Pearson unloaded nearly $100 million worth of shares. Today, however, the drugmaker's top executive is firing back -- and the stock is gaining ground, to the delight of bullish options traders.

For starters, current CEO Joseph Papa said in a statement, "Mike's personal stock transactions are not a reflection of the ongoing viability of Valeant." Later, Papa added, "As a Valeant shareholder, I continue to believe that we will succeed in realizing this company's exceptional potential and remain confident that our future will be bright."

On top of that, Pearson -- who still owns more than 3.5 million shares -- chimed in. "While I trimmed my ownership position for personal reasons, I plan on holding my remaining shares until the company recovers and returns to being traded on fundamentals," he said.

Wall Street appears to be eating up the proverbial votes of confidence. At last check, VRX stock was roughly 4% higher at $22.44 on heavy volume. In fact, nearly 12 million shares are already on the tape, ranking in the 98th annual percentile.

Based on data at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), options traders should be pleased with the gains. Specifically, during the last two weeks, speculators have bought to open 2.17 VRX calls for every put -- a ratio that ranks in the top quartile of its annual range.

Underscoring the prevailing call bias -- particularly among short-term traders -- is the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR). At 0.74, the SOIR indicates calls outstrip puts among options in the front three-months' series. What's more, this ratio rests below 93% of all other readings from the prior year.

By no means is everyone bullish, though. For example, nearly 10% of VRX's float is sold short -- suggesting some of the aforementioned call buying could've been at the hands of short sellers hedging. In a similar vein, 11 of 15 analysts rate VRX a "hold" or worse.

And why should Wall Street be confident? Valeant Pharmaceuticals Intl Inc (NYSE:VRX) has been a technical disaster, plunging 90% over the past year and recently touching a six-year low, while losing the confidence of major investors left and right.

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