Buzz Stocks: Cempra Inc, Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc, and LendingClub Corp

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Cempra Inc (CEMP), Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (IONS), and LendingClub Corp (LC)

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Nov 7, 2016 at 9:29 AM

U.S. stocks are soaring pre-market, as the odds of a Hillary Clinton presidency got a boost from the FBI. Among specific equities in focus today are drugmakers Cempra Inc (NASDAQ:CEMP) and Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IONS), as well as consumer lending stock LendingClub Corp (NYSE:LC). Here's a quick look at what's driving CEMP, IONS, and LC.

  • CEMP is blasting off pre-market despite being halted earlier, after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee backed the company's pneumonia treatment solithromycin. Ahead of the bell, the stock is 25.2% higher at $9.45, shaking off a price-target cut to $13 from $31 at Cowen, with both Needham and SunTrust expressing confidence over an eventual FDA approval. Technically speaking, Cempra Inc is still trying to recover from its worst day ever, and as of Friday's close at $7.55, had lost three-years of its value year-to-date. Also, last week, the shares touched a three-year low of $7.05. Yet, the brokerage crowd has been overwhelmingly bullish toward CEMP, dishing out eight "buy" or better ratings, versus five "holds" and just one "strong sell."
  • Meanwhile, sector peer IONS is preparing to gap up 14.6% at the open, after the company's spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) treatment -- being developed with Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB) -- met its main goal in a late-stage study, based on an interim analysis. Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc shares could use the boost, considering they've dropped 56% year-to-date at $27.13. Not surprisingly, options traders have been picking up bearish bets over bullish at a quicker-than-usual pace of late, amid relatively low absolute volume. IONS sports a 10-day International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) put/call volume ratio of 0.87 -- just 14 percentage points from a 12-month high. These bearish bettors may be banking on an earnings miss, with the drugmaker slated to hit the confessional Wednesday morning.
  • LC is pointed 9.2% higher in electronic trading, following a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss. However, the stock has gotten roughed up over the long haul, down over 53% in 2016 to land at $5.13. Not surprisingly, short sellers have been piling on LendingClub Corp. During the last two reporting periods, short interest spiked over 13%. Currently, more than one-fifth of the stock's float is sold short, which would take roughly 11 sessions to cover, at LC's typical daily trading rate.

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