Buzz Stocks: Auris Medical Holding AG, Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc, and Raptor Pharmaceutical Corp.

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Auris Medical Holding AG (EARS), Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc (PTLA), and Raptor Pharmaceutical Corp. (RPTP)

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Aug 18, 2016 at 9:48 AM

It's looking like another slow start for stocks in the U.S., as traders continue to digest the latest Fed minutes. Among equities in focus today are biotech stocks Auris Medical Holding AG (NASDAQ:EARS), Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:PTLA), and Raptor Pharmaceutical Corp. (NASDAQ:RPTP)

  • EARS is down 58.9% at $2.20 this morning, earlier hitting a record low of $2.05, on news the company's treatment for inner ear tinnitus failed to meet goals in a trial. The news is overshadowing second-quarter results for Auris Medical Holding AG, which were in line with analyst estimates. One group may be pleased to see a huge bear gap today. Specifically, short interest is seated at a record high after climbing 37.5% in the two latest reporting periods. At the equity's typical pace of trading, it would take about two weeks for short sellers to cover their positions.
  • PTLA is also selling off, down 20.9% at $18.73, after the company's drug for uncontrolled bleeding in patients with a Factor Xa inhibitor failed to receive approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In fact, the company instead received a Complete Response Letter from regulators. Portola Pharmaceuticals Inc had already given back 54% of its value in 2016 coming into today, and is now on pace for its lowest close in more than three years. Options traders are likely sweating this morning, as call buying has been popular in PTLA's options pits of late. In fact, the stock's 50-day call/put volume ratio of 3.50 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) sits higher than 91% of the past year's readings. 
  • RPTP is bucking the downbeat trend among its peers, thanks to speculation Martin Shkreli's former company, Retrophin Inc (NASDAQ:RTRX), is considering making a bid for the firm. Raptor Pharmaceutical Corp was last seen 10.1% higher at $7.60 -- now up over 46% year-to-date. Still, short interest on the stock is elevated, representing nearly 10% of RPTP's available float, or more than 16 times its average daily trading volume. A capitulation of short sellers on today's news could push the shares even higher -- but they still have a long way to go to close last September's massive bear gap.

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