Shorts Scramble as Intercept Stock Gaps Higher

Intercept stock is now pacing for its best day since August

by Lillian Currens

Published on Feb 19, 2019 at 10:07 AM

The shares of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ICPT) are soaring in early trading -- up 15.4% at $127.93 -- after the company announced that its treatment for liver fibrosis caused by nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) achieved one of the primary goals of a late-stage study. The stock peaked at $131.87 out of the gate. 

Today's bull gap has the stock launching higher from support at its 40-day moving average, but stopping just short (so far) of last year's Oct. 1 high of $133.74. The security has now more than doubled year-over-year and is set for its biggest one-day gain since Aug. 6.  

Analysts are optimistic on ICPT stock, with 11 of the 15 issuing a "buy" or "strong buy" rating, three saying "hold," and only one slapping on a "sell" rating. Plus, the consensus 12-month target price of $147.95 is still at a nearly 33.5% premium  to current levels.  

Traders have taken a more skeptical stance. Despite the fact that short interest dropped 6.6% in the most recent reporting period, the 2.85 million shares sold short still represent a healthy 12.5% of the stock's available float. It would take more than a week for these ICPT shorts to buy back their bearish bets, at the stock's average daily trading volume -- which means a short-squeeze rally would take quite a few sessions to fully play out. 


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