2 Stocks Sinking On Drug Developments

ACOR is heading for its worst week ever

Managing Editor
Sep 13, 2018 at 10:23 AM
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Drugmakers Acorda Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ACOR) and Progenics Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:PGNX) have fallen near the bottom of the Nasdaq this morning, after both were dealt crippling blows to their drug pipeline.

ACOR's Bad Week Continues

Earlier this morning, Acorda Therapeutics announced the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pushed back its review date for the company's Parkinson's disease drug, Inbrija. In response, the security is down 9.1% to trade at $16.82, and earlier hit a new annual low of $15.60. The stock was already under pressure earlier this week, after a U.S. court upheld its decision to invalidate four patents for the company's multiple sclerosis drug. Now, the shares are on track for their worst week in history, and have racked up a 2018 deficit of 25%. If nothing else, ACOR's 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) suggests a short-term bounce is near, as this reading sits well into oversold territory, coming in at 15.

Put options are hot today, with over 350 puts on the tape -- roughly 14 times what's typically seen and volume running in the 100th annual percentile. Most active is the January 2019 14-strike put, although it looks like some speculators are also targeting the September 16 put, with new positions being opened.

PGNX Cancer Screening Agent Fails Critical Study

Looking at Progenics Pharmaceuticals, the company's prostate cancer detection agent failed its late-stage clinical trial, sending the stock down 16.7% to trade at $6.08, at last check. PGNX is on track for its worst day since January 2014, and is trading at its lowest point since a late-February bull gap. The equity has now given back 38% from its Aug. 6 high at $9.41. 

Options traders have been almost exclusively targeting PGNX calls, despite limited absolute volume.  More than 1,271 calls were bought to open during the past 10 days at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), compared to just 12 puts. The resultant 10-day call/put volume ratio ranks in the 89th percentile of its annual range, shows this rate of call buying relative to put buying has been quicker than usual.

The good news for those buying premium is that short-term options are attractively priced right now, from a volatility perspective. This is based on the security's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 75%, which arrives in the 13th percentile of its annual range.

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