Buzz Stocks: Nivalis Therapeutics Inc, Agile Therapeutics Inc, and Encana Corp

Today's stocks to watch in the news include Nivalis Therapeutics Inc (NVLS), Agile Therapeutics Inc (AGRX), and Encana Corp (USA) (ECA)

by Kirra Fedyszyn

Published on Jan 4, 2017 at 9:25 AM

The major U.S. stock indexes are set to open higher again today, as traders await the release of last month's Fed meeting minutes, due this afternoon. Among specific equities in the spotlight today are drug stocks Nivalis Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:NVLS) and Agile Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:AGRX), as well as oil-and-gas concern Encana Corp (USA) (NYSE:ECA). Here's a quick look at what's driving NVLS, AGRX, and ECA.

  • NVLS is set to add 8.2% at the open on news the company's board is exploring strategic alternatives. Nivalis Therapeutics Inc dropped nearly 60% of its value in a single session in late November after its cystic fibrosis treatment failed in a mid-stage study, and the stock has yet to recover. In fact, since hitting a record low of $2 on Dec. 12, the shares have barely budged, closing last night at $2.20. Some traders apparently expect the losses to continue, too. For instance, short interest on NVLS increased by nearly 1,000% during the two most recent reporting periods.

  • AGRX is poised to give up nearly 64% at the opening bell following the release of data on its contraceptive patch, Twirla. While the drug reportedly saw positive results in a phase 3 study, it was also revealed that 51.4% of participants prematurely left the study. The news also led RBC and Cantor Fitzgerald to slash their price targets on Agile Therapeutics Inc, to $8 and $7, respectively. After spending roughly six months stuck in a sideways channel between the $6.50 and $7.75 levels, AGRX began a sharp sell-off in late December, finishing Tuesday at $5.00 after tapping a record low of $4.46 -- a level the stock is almost certain to breach out of the gate this morning. Still, more bearish brokerage attention could be ahead, considering all five firms tracking AGRX currently maintain the equivalent of a "strong buy" rating.
  • ECA reported this morning that it expects to beat the 2017 forecast previously revealed at its Oct. 2016 investor day, with its corporate margin growing to $10 per barrel of oil, and expected to grow to $13 in 2018. The news has Encana Corp (USA) up 4.6% ahead of the open, set to add to its 126.6% year-over-year lead, based on last night's finish at $11.94. The shares have been trending higher since last February, with recent pullbacks limited by support at the 50-day moving average. But options traders have been taking an unusually put-heavy approach. In fact, at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), ECA has seen more than five puts purchased for each call over the last 10 sessions. Moreover, the resulting put/call volume ratio of 5.07 ranks higher than 85% of all readings from the past 12 months. 

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