Drug Stock More than Doubles After FDA Nod

Plus, a cannabis company is ready to ramp up production

Managing Editor
Mar 13, 2019 at 2:46 PM
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The Dow is on the mend today thanks to a Boeing (BA) bounce and upbeat economic data. Among stocks making notable moves today, orphan disease specialist Akari Therapeutics PLC (NASDAQ:AKTX) and cannabis company Hexo Corp (NYSEAMERICAN:HEXO) are higher, while EpiPen rival Insys Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:INSY) is sharply lower. Here's a quick look at what's got the shares of AKTX, HEXO, and INSY moving today.

AKTX On Top of Nasdaq After FDA Meeting

The best stock on the Nasdaq today is Akari Therapeutics, up an eye-opening 195.1% to trade at $5.37, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provided a regulatory pathway for the company's blood clot treatment. Following the FDA meeting, the company said it expects to start Coversin trials on pediatric patients in the U.S. and Europe in the fourth quarter.

AKTX earlier tapped a 17-month high of $5.65, and is on track for its best single-session jump since August 2015. What's more, analysts at Canaccord Genuity waxed optimistic on the "potentially pivotal" Coversin program, highlighting a "buy" rating and $8 price target on the shares -- territory not charted since October 2017, and representing another 49% jump from current levels.

Newstrike Purchase Sends HEXO Higher

Weed stocks continue to shine today. Earlier today, it was announced Hexo Corp will buy Up Cannabis parent Newstrike Brands, in an effort to increase production of recreational marijuana. The deal will give Hexo the capacity to produce 150,000 kilograms of cannabis annually.

At last check, HEXO was up 5.9% to trade at $5.84. The shares debuted on the Big Board in mid-January, but have mostly stayed between the $5 and $6 levels. Options traders today are betting on a breakout, though. HEXO has seen roughly 1,900 calls change hands -- four times the average afternoon pace -- with buy-to-open activity spotted at the April 7.50 call. Buyers of the call expect the shares to top $7.50 by April options expiration.

Audit Reveals Cash-Flow Crisis for INSY

On the other end of the spectrum sits Insys Therapeutics, down 22.7%, one of the worst stocks on the Nasdaq today. The drugmaker's auditor raised concerns about its ability to continue as a going concern after examining 2018 financial statements. The company added that it is looking at ways to raise cash, but can provide "no assurances." INSY rallied off its Dec. 28 bottom of $3.35 all the way up to $6.71 earlier this month, but was swiftly rejected by its 160-day moving average last week, and has now erased most of the aforementioned gains.

More headwinds could come from a round of bearish analyst attention. Exactly 80% of brokerages in coverage of INSY rate it a "buy" or better, with just one "sell" on the books. Plus, its consensus 12-month price target of $7.83 is an 82.3% premium to its current perch. 


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