2 Surging Drug Stocks Seeing Heavy Options Trading

ALXN options traders are targeting the out-of-the-money 140 strike

by Karee Venema

Published on Sep 26, 2018 at 3:18 PM

The U.S. stock market is mixed at midday, as traders digest the latest policy news from the Fed. Among individual names in focus are Soliris maker Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALXN), Lyme Disease expert T2 Biosystems Inc (NASDAQ:TTOO), and skin specialist XBiotech Inc (NASDAQ:XBIT). Here's a quick look at what's moving shares of ALXN, TTOO, and XBIT.

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Stock Booms on Buyout Buzz

Alexion Pharmaceuticals stock is up 6.1% at $136.89, after the company said it plans to buy biotech Syntimmune for $1.2 billion. The shares have now added more than 14% in 2018, but are closing in on the $138 region, which has kept a tight lid on ALXN since a late-October bear gap.

Options traders have been quick to react, with roughly 4,200 calls and 760 puts on the tape so far -- around three times what's typically seen at this point. The 140 strike is popular among call traders, with buy-to-open activity detected in the weekly 9/28 and standard October series.

T2 Biosystems Call Buyers Pay Up During Stock Surge

T2 Biosystems shares have surged 12.5% to trade at $7.31, on positive data for its early stage Lyme Disease test -- which Canaccord Genuity called a "critical unmet need." This positive price action is just more of the same for a stock that's added almost 78% year-to-date, with today's bull gap putting TTOO on track for the first close north of its 80-day moving average since mid-July.

Intraday options volume is running at 10 times the expected pace, with 1,331 contracts on the tape so far. Short-term TTOO call options are pricing in higher volatility expectations than their put counterparts, too, per the stock's 30-day implied volatility skew of 45.9% -- in the 93rd annual percentile.

XBiotech Stock Pops on European Patent

XBiotech said its inflammatory skin disease drug, bermekimab, was granted a patent in Europe. In reaction, XBIT stock is 4.8% higher to trade at $3.07, extending a bounce off its Sept. 11 record low of $2.13.

The shares remain down 22.3% year-to-date, failing to capitalize on a steady stream of buying power from shorts. Short interest has been cut in half since the start of the year, yet the 2.45 million shares still dedicated to these bearish bets account for 12.4% of XBIT's available float, or 10.2 times the average daily pace of trading.

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