AbbVie Stock Hits Record High After 'Jaw Dropping' Forecast

The EMA granted marketing approval to Pfizer's jointly developed diabetes drug

by Karee Venema

Published on Jan 26, 2018 at 2:35 PM

The U.S. stock market is set to end the week with strong gains, as Wall Street reacts to the latest batch of corporate earnings reports. Among individual names making big moves are Israel-based biotech RedHill Biopharma Ltd (NASDAQ:RDHL), Dow stock Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), and Humira parent AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV). Here's a quick look at how the drug stocks are trading today.

RedHill Biopharma Stock Eyes Best Day in Two Years

Instinet initiated coverage on RedHill Biopharma with a "buy" rating and an $18 price target -- territory not charted since July 2015. The brokerage firm waxed optimistic on the company's "undervalued pipeline," with data from several key drug trials due out this year. In reaction, RDHL stock has shot 16% higher to trade at $6.47, on track for its best day since June 2015.

While the shares are on track to close north of their 80-day moving average for the first time since late October, they still have a ways to go before filling a Nov. 7 bear gap. Plus, RDHL remains 37.3% lower on a year-over-year basis.

Short sellers have been recently rebuilding their bearish positions on RDHL, too. Though short interest remains well below its mid-November record high, it jumped 21.6% in the most recent reporting period.

Pfizer Stock Call Options Hot Amid Surge

Pfizer shares hit a nearly 14-year high of $38.91 earlier, and were last seen trading up 4.5% at $38.88 -- second only to Intel (INTC) as the best Dow stock today. Boosting the shares is a ruling by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that gave marketing approval to a diabetes drug, Steglatro, that's jointly developed between PFE and Merck (MRK).

The security is now pacing for its biggest weekly gain since November 2016, and has widened its 12-month return to 23.8%. Options traders are betting on even more upside over the next few weeks -- a time frame that includes Pfizer's earnings report, due ahead of the open next Tuesday, January 30.

More than 117,000 calls have changed hands today -- seven times what's typically seen, and volume pacing in the 100th annual percentile. Most active are the February 38 and 38.50 calls, where it appears new positions are being purchased.

ABBV Stock Soars After Earnings, Guidance

AbbVie reported fourth-quarter adjusted profit of $1.48 per share -- better than analysts were expecting -- and lifted its 2018 forecast, expecting to get a boost from GOP tax reform. Adding to the bullish buzz is a price-target hike to $130 from $105 at Cowen and Company, while Jefferies called the upwardly revised guidance "jaw dropping."

As a result, ABBV shares were last seen trading up 13.6% at a record high $123.00 -- pacing for their biggest weekly percentage gain since October 2015. This is just more of the same for the drug stock, though, with the stock nearly doubling in value on a year-over-year basis.

There's plenty of room for more analysts to raise their outlooks on AbbVie stock, too. Seven of the 16 brokerages covering the shares maintain a lukewarm "hold" recommendation, while the average 12-month price target of $104.25 stands at a discount to current trading levels. A continued round of positive analyst notes could create even bigger tailwinds for ABBV.

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