2 Healthcare Stocks Soaring On Fresh "Buy" Ratings

VAR and REGN stocks were both upgraded

by Patrick Martin

Published on Jan 4, 2019 at 3:03 PM

Stocks are finishing the week out strong today, powered by the latest comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell. Among the notable climbers today are healthcare stock Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (NYSE:VAR), as well as biotechs Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:REGN) and Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB). Below, we'll take a look at the news moving the shares of VAR, REGN, and BIIB.

Goldman Hands Out "Buy" Rating to VAR

Goldman Sachs really doled out the bull notes today. Besides Netflix, the brokerage firm upgraded Varian Medical Systems stock to "buy" from "sell" based on the potential for the company's new radiotherapy device quota in China. In response, VAR shares were last seen up 9.2% at $119.85. The stock is on track for its best day in nearly 12 months, and is back above its year-over-year breakeven point. 

Analysts are split right down the middle over Varian Medical Systems stock. Eight brokerages are in coverage, with four rating it a "strong buy," and the other four rating it a "hold" or "strong sell." However, its consensus 12-month price target sits just above at $120.69, indicating there is room for more bull notes.

Analyst: REGN Drug Dupixent a "Pipeline Within a Drug"

Regeneron stock is up 7% to trade at $398.53, boosted by an upgrade to "buy" from "neutral" at Guggenheim. The analyst in coverage noted that competition concerns with the company's eye treatment drug have been addressed, and called Regeneron's Dupixent drug for eczema a "pipeline within a drug." The stock is again testing the $400 level, an area that has served as resistance since October.

Meanwhile, Regeneron's Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 1.33 registers in the 85th percentile of its annual range. This suggests near-term options traders are much more put-heavy than usual right now. Should REGN break past its short-term ceiling, an unwinding of pessimism in the options pits could help the security.

Biogen Looks to Expand Portfolio with New Partners

Lastly, Biogen stock is up 4.8% to trade at $321.74 after the company inked deals with C4 Therapeutics and Skyhawk Therapeutics to expand its drug portfolio for neurological diseases. Despite the rally today, BIIB shares have a 5.4% deficit year-over-year, and have been in a series of lower highs since September.

The appetite in the options pits has been for puts, despite limited absolute volume. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the equity's 10-day put/call volume ratio of 1.25 is in the 83rd percentile of its annual range. This elevated percentile indicates a much healthier-than-usual appetite for bearish bets of late.

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