Akorn Put Buyers Cheer as Stock Rocked By Abandoned Takeover

Fresenius ditched its takeover of Akorn, citing evidence of misconduct

by Patrick Martin

Published on Apr 23, 2018 at 9:58 AM

Akorn, Inc. (NASDAQ:AKRX) stock is down 35% to trade at $12.79, and fresh off a new five-year low of $12.40. AKRX stock is among the worst on the Nasdaq so far today, after Germany's Fresenius pulled out of its planned $4.75 billion acquisition of Akorn, citing evidence of misconduct in reporting drug developments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, Akorn is firing back, saying Fresenius' attempt to terminate the deal based on findings from an ongoing investigation constitutes a breach of the merger agreement and is "completely without merit."

Akorn stock has now shed a whopping 60% so far in 2018. Doubts about the Fresenius deal first emerged in late February, when the prospective buyer announced an independent investigation into Akorn's "alleged breaches" of FDA data integrity requirements, sending AKRX shares gapping lower.

Plenty of short sellers are likely cheering today's news. The 10.54 million shares sold short represents more than 11% of AKRX's total available float.

In the options pits, put buyers have been prevalent. Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) shows AKRX with a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 2.82, indicating AKRX puts have nearly tripled calls during the past two weeks.

The June 17.50 put is home to notable open interest, with a healthy amount of buy-to-open activity indicated in late February, around the time of the aforementioned bear gap. This suggests options traders were banking on AKRX to continue its freefall into the summer months, possibly as a result of a scrapped buyout deal. These puts are now comfortably in the money today.

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