Penny Stock Picks Up Top Pick Status

Jefferies named Aphria its top pick in the cannabis industry

by Patrick Martin

Published on Jan 2, 2020 at 9:56 AM

It's a new year, and analysts are busy making their top picks for 2020. One name in particular that's buzzing today is Aphria Inc (NYSE:APHA), after Jefferies named the cannabis stock its top pick in the industry. While upping its price target to $8.40, the analyst in coverage glowed about the company's strong Canadian medical marijuana business, branding in the recreational market, and U.S. potential. 

Despite the bull note, Aphria stock is down 1.2% to trade at $5.15, unable to build on its New Years eve 10.4% bull gap. Longer term, APHA is now down 12% in the last 12 months, with the 100-day moving average providing a stiff ceiling overhead since mid September.

A short squeeze could help the shares topple that trendline. Short interest fell off by 6% in the two most recent reporting periods to 33.68 million shares. This still accounts for 14.5% of APHA's total available float, and more than six days' worth of buying power, at the stock's average pace of trading.

In the options pits, calls hold a distinct advantage, albeit amid limited absolute volume. In the last 10 days, 9,229 calls have been bought at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), compared to just 952 puts. This ratio ranks in the elevated 74th annual percentile, indicating that such a skew is rare. However, given the amount of short interest tied up in the stock, it's possible some of this call buying could be shorts seeking an options hedge against any unexpected upside.

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