Drug Stock Set to Crush Shorts After Data

Analysts are already bullish on AKBA stock

Mar 12, 2019 at 9:02 AM
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The shares of Akebia Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:AKBA) have shot up 23.4% in electronic trading, after the Massachusetts-based firm reported positive data from a pair of late-stage studies for vadadustat -- used to treat patients with anemia due to chronic kidney disease. The studies were part of a collaboration with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC), which plans to apply for vadadustat marketing approval in Japan later this year.

Heading into today's trading, AKBA shares were down 48% year-over-year. More recently, the stock has come off its late-December low, adding 32.7% year-to-date through last night's close at $7.34. Should today's pre-market price action pan out, the equity could test its 200-day moving average -- a trendline that contained a mid-December breakout attempt, and hasn't been toppled on a daily closing basis since Jan. 29, 2018.

Analysts have yet to weigh in after the drug data, though sentiment from this bunch is currently bullish. While five of six covering brokerages maintain a "buy" or better rating, the average 12-month price target of $17.29 is a stiff 135.6% premium to Monday's settlement.

Short sellers, meanwhile, could be pressured to cover -- which would likely strengthen tailwinds for Akebia Therapeutics stock. Short interest rose 14.3% in the two most recent reporting periods to 6.97 million shares. This represents a healthy 6.5% of AKBA's total  available float, or 8.8 times the average daily pace of trading.

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