Pharma Stock Drops 20%; Apple Volatility Expectations Spike

AAPL puts have seen an uptick in popularity lately

Josh Selway
Oct 18, 2018 at 2:38 PM
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Stocks are selling off today on fears of rising interest rates and Chinese markets. Three names in particular worth monitoring are iPhone creator Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), freight concern Canadian National Railway (NYSE:CNI), and drugmaker Apellis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:APLS). Keep reading to see what's moving shares of AAPL, CNI, and APLS.

AAPL Lower Despite Event Announcement

AAPL is participating in the broad-market pullback, last seen down 2.4% at $215.83. The company just announced an event scheduled for Oct. 30, where it's expected to unveil a new laptop, but now doesn't appear to be a good time to speculate on the Dow component by buying options. That's because the 30-day at-the-money implied volatility has jumped to 34.4%, ranking in the 99th annual percentile.

But coming into today, options traders had been showing a slightly stronger-than-usual preference for Apple puts over calls. For instance, International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) data shows that the 10-day put/call volume ratio of 0.66 ranks in the 82nd annual percentile, indicating put buying has seen an uptick in interest in the past two weeks.

Downgrade Sends CNI Lower

CNI shares are down 1.7% at $83.56, on pace for their lowest close since July, after BofA-Merrill Lynch downgraded its rating to "neutral" from "buy" on valuation concerns. The stock is trading near its highs from earlier in the year, and is only a few points above the year-over-year and year-to-date points. Further down is the 200-day moving average, which neatly contained the pullback in late June.

Most other analysts are already bearish on Canadian National Railway. There are 22 brokerage firms in coverage, and 12 of them have just "hold" ratings on the security. At the same time, the consensus 12-month price target stands up at $92.94.

APLS Sells Off on Study Hold

APLS has fallen 17.9% to trade at $13.72 following news the company is placing a hold on its geographic atrophy study, after observing inflammation in all eight patients. The stock had already been trending lower for months, and today could finish at its lowest point all year.

While the stock is short-sale restricted today, short sellers already have a notable position in Apellis Pharmaceuticals. Going by average daily trading volumes, it would take short sellers more than eight sessions to cover their positions.


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