3 Penny Stocks Swinging on News

Vital Therapies said it will explore strategic options after the failed study

by Karee Venema

Published on Sep 12, 2018 at 10:25 AM

While the broader stock market sticks to a tight trading range this morning, orphan disease specialist Akari Therapeutics PLC (NASDAQ:AKTX), acne expert Foamix Pharmaceuticals Ltd (NASDAQ:FOMX), and liver support authority Vital Therapies Inc (NASDAQ:VTL) are making big moves. Here's a quick look at what has the penny stocks swinging today.

AKTX Stock Jumps on Positive Coversin Report

Akari Therapeutics shares have jumped 9.7% to trade at $2.27, after the company reported data that suggests its drug Coversin could be used to treat multiple diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis. Heading into today's trading, AKTX stock was down nearly 52% year-to-date, and had been churning between $1.70 and $2.40 since late March.

The two analysts covering AKTX shares are mixed, with one maintaining a "strong buy" recommendation and the other a "hold" rating. Meanwhile, the average 12-month price target of $5.25 is a 131.8% premium to current trading levels.

FOMX Stock Eyes Best Day In Months After Acne Drug Data

Foamix Pharmaceuticals stock has shot up 23% to trade at $7.28, fresh off an 18-month peak of $7.60, after the company's topical foam acne treatment met the main goals of a late-stage study. Plus, H.C. Wainwright raised its price target to $14 from $12 -- a 135% premium to last night's close -- while Credit Suisse said it sees "a high likelihood of regulatory approval" for FOMX's lead drug.

Today's bull gap has FOMX stock on track for its best day since April, and back in the green on a year-to-date basis. Should this upside continue, bullish analysts may start to chime in. Just two brokerages currently cover Foamix Pharmaceuticals, though both maintain a "strong buy" rating.

VTL Stock Sinks After Failed Liver Treatment Study

Vital Therapies stock, on the other hand, has plunged 90.5% to trade at $0.60, earlier hitting a record low share price of $0.50. The company said it would explore strategic options after suspending the development of its experimental cell-based therapy for liver failure following a disappointing study.

What's more, William Blair -- which upgraded VTL stock roughly one month ago on optimism surrounding the treatment -- cut its rating back down to "market perform." Cantor Fitzgerald also downgraded Vital Therapies, to "neutral" from "overweight," while slashing its price target to $0.50 from $18.

Short sellers are certainly cheering this sell-off. While VTL is currently on the short-sale restricted list, there are 9.27 million shares sold short -- representing a lofty 33.9% of the stock's available float.


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