Option Bulls Cheer Viking Therapeutics Stock Explosion

There was notable open interest at the September 12.50 call

Sep 18, 2018 at 9:14 AM
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Viking Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:VKTX) is set to explode out of the gate this morning, up 129.5% in pre-market trading, thanks to news the company's experimental liver drug met its goals in a mid-stage study. The stock had already been a strong performer during the past year, surging from just $1.20 this time last year to yesterday's close at $10.39.

Data from the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) suggests this move would be good news for options traders. More than 3,600 calls were bought to open during the past 10 days across these exchanges, compared to just 213 puts.

One of the most popular options on the drugmaker, based on total open interest, was the September 12.50 call, which expires this Friday. Data shows a mix of buy- and sell-to-open activity there, so those who bought the calls are likely celebrating, while the call writers are licking their wounds.

It's also shaping up to be a bad day for short sellers. These bears control more than 36% of Viking Therapeutics' float, and going by average daily volumes, it'd take them more than four days to cover their positions.

On the other hand, sentiment in the analyst community has been very bullish. All six of the brokerage firms tracking VKTX say it's worth buying, and the average 12-month price target of $14.33 was a sharp premium to last night's close -- though obviously now some analysts may feel compelled to hike their price targets.

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