2 Drug Stocks Swinging Wildly

ARWR and SRPT are attempting to find support at key trendlines

by Karee Venema

Published on Oct 4, 2018 at 10:47 AM
Updated on Oct 4, 2018 at 2:19 PM

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ARWR) announced a $3.7 billion licensing deal with Janssen Pharmaceuticals -- a division of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) -- to develop and market its gene-silencing hepatitis B treatment, ARO-HBV. JNJ will also take a $75 million equity investment in the company for $23 per ARWR share -- a  nearly 24% premium to last night's close.

In reaction, ARWR stock was initially higher out of the gate, rallying as high as $20.31. However, the stock has since turned lower, and was last seen down 16.2% to trade at $15.56. The shares were already up more than 400% year-to-date heading into today's trading, and are attempting to find support atop their 50-day moving average today.

While analysts are overwhelmingly upbeat toward ARWR -- all six in coverage maintain a "strong buy" rating -- short sellers have been piling on the drug stock. Short interest is up 389% since the start of the year to 14.48 million shares, the most since October 2015. This represents one-fifth of the equity's available float, or 2.8 times the average daily trading volume.

Sarepta Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:SRPT) late Wednesday reported positive trial data for its Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) treatment, saying that none of the four patients undergoing the experimental gene therapy had serious side effects. While William Blair called the data "potentially game-changing," J.P. Morgan Securities said the stock could trade in the neighborhood of $180 to $190 per share.

SRPT stock, too, initially started the day in the black, peaking as high as $151.59. However, the equity was last seen 3.3% lower to trade at $142.49. Still, the shares have more than doubled year-over-year, with their 50-day and 80-day moving averages underscoring this technical tenacity. These trendlines are currently docked near $135 -- home to the equity's lows from its late-June bull gap -- which caught a pullback earlier this week.

Like Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, analysts are bullish toward SRPT, with 94% of covering brokerage firms calling the stock a "buy" or better. However, short interest rose 3.1% in the latest reporting period to 9.31 million shares -- representing 14.9% of the equity's available float, or 8.8 times the average daily pace of trading.

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