FDA Decision Hammers BMY Stock as Earnings Loom

Bristol-Myers Squibb is nearing 52-week-low territory

Oct 22, 2018 at 10:19 AM
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It's been a horrible month for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (NYSE:BMY). The shares had been on a strong uptrend since hitting a bottom near $50 back in June, and touched a near-term peak of $63.69 on Oct. 9. Since then, however, the stock has been plagued by heavy selling pressure, closing Friday at $54.30 -- meaning it had shed roughly 15% since the aforementioned October high. Today, BMY is lower once again.

The drugmaker has dropped another 5.3% in early trading, last seen at $51.45, following news the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is extending its review period of the company's Opdivo combination therapy for lung cancer patients. Citigroup responded by dropping its price target on BMY to $57 from $62, and downgrading the stock to "neutral."

Most analysts are already bearish on the stock, with eight of 13 covering brokerage firms handing out "hold" ratings. Meanwhile, the average 12-month price target stands up at $61.06, so more technical weakness could attract additional price-target reductions.

And despite Bristol-Myers Squibb's 16% year-to-date deficit, short interest is almost nonexistent. Less than 1% of the equity's float is sold short, with just 13.5 million shares held by short sellers, or 2.6 times the average daily trading volume.

As for options activity, traders have mostly avoided BMY, with open interest sitting right near a 52-week low. Still, it's worth nothing that the January 2019 60- and 65-strike calls are the two top open interest positions, and data from the major exchanges shows mostly sell-to-open activity, suggesting traders were expecting the shares to hold below the price points in the coming months.

So far today, both calls and puts are crossing at an accelerated rate. Leading the way is the November 50 put, while new positions are also opening at the weekly 10/26 49-strike put. Looking ahead, the company is scheduled to report earnings the morning of Thursday, Oct. 25.


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