Wall Street Dishes Out "Sell" Ratings on Healthcare Stocks

Near-term options traders are surprisingly call heavy on DGX

Jul 15, 2019 at 11:55 AM
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Multiple brokerage firms have just made big calls for the healthcare sector. Three names hit with the equivalent of a "sell" rating today are lab equipment specialist Mettler-Toledo International Inc. (NYSE:MTD), diagnostics services provider Quest Diagnostics Inc (NYSE:DGX), and drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd (NYSE:TEVA).

Barclays downgraded MTD shares to "underweight" with a $680 price target -- far below the current share price of $818.39. Right now down 2% on the day, Mettler-Toledo is pacing for a fifth straight session in the red, breaking its strong 2019 uptrend. Overall, the equity has a year-to-date lead of almost 45%, yet all other analysts share the view of Barclays.

Specifically, there are eight brokerages in coverage, and they all have "hold" or "strong sell" recommendations. Short interest is also somewhat high, based on the short-interest ratio of 5.90, showing it'd take shorts almost six days to cover, going by average daily trading volumes.

DGX shares were cut to "sell" at Goldman Sachs with a $5 price-target cut to $85. The stock did manage to find support at its 50-day moving average earlier, but still remains almost 13% lower year-over-year. Most analysts are already on the bearish side, with the majority sporting "hold" ratings.

Of note, near-term options traders are unusually call-skewed right now. Quest Diagnostics has a Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) of 0.29, ranking in the bottom percentile of its annual range, meaning this type of call tilt is extremely rare.

Finally, TEVA stock was cut to "underweight" at Morgan Stanley, which cited the litigation risk around the company for its role in the opioid crisis. The shares have fallen 9% to $8.42, holding near their multi-year lows, and put trading has picked up today, with new positions opening at the September 9 put. 

While the vast majority of analysts have already moved to the sidelines with "hold" or worse ratings, there are still four positive views left, suggesting the streak of bear notes could continue. Meanwhile, short interest keeps rising, up almost 43% in the last two reporting periods.


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