Intrexon Corp (XON) Appoints New COO Ahead of Earnings

Intrexon Corp (XON) has been swarmed by bearish options traders and short sellers alike

Aug 8, 2016 at 11:41 AM
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Drugmaker Intrexon Corp (NYSE:XON) is taking it on the chin ahead of tomorrow night's earnings report. At last check, the biotech stock is off 2.3% at $28.06, following the appointment of Andrew J. Last, Ph.D., as the company's next chief operating officer. Today's losses may be bad news for shareholders, but the many options traders who have been betting bearishly of late should be in good shape.

At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), traders have bought to open 0.39 XON puts for every call during the last two weeks. Nonetheless, this put/call volume ratio ranks just 9 percentage points from an annual high -- suggesting that, from a historical perspective, speculators have been more bearish than usual recently. Underscoring this relative put bias, the stock's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.56 registers in the 81st percentile of its 12-month range.

Options traders aren't the only ones harboring serious doubts about XON. In fact, a lofty 29% of the biotech stock's float is sold short. At the shares' average daily trading volume, it would take close to three weeks for short sellers to cover their bearish stock positions -- suggesting Intrexon may be primed for a short-squeeze, should the company's upcoming earnings report top expectations.

Speaking of which, XON will head to the confessional tomorrow night, just as several sector peers are scheduled to tell all today. Currently, the options market is pricing in a bold 12.7% swing for the shares, in either direction, in the session subsequent to earnings. This represents a bigger move than the average of 8.7% seen over the past eight quarters.

Technically speaking, Intrexon Corp (NYSE:XON) has picked up the pace on the charts lately amid mounting Zika concerns. Yet, a potential speed bump lies just overhead at the biotech stock's year-to-date breakeven mark -- $30.15 -- which corresponds with potential resistance at the round $30 level and the descending 160-day moving average.

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