Penny Stock Pops On COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Inovio wants to start human trials in the U.S. by April

Managing Editor
Mar 3, 2020 at 11:22 AM
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As coronavirus panic grips the world, there's a scramble among drug companies to develop a vaccine as soon as possible. One such name is Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO). After biotech accelerated its coronavirus vaccine development, INO's stock is up 19.2% to trade at $5.23 this morning. The company plans on starting human trials by April in the U.S., and then in Asia to follow. They are aiming to deliver one million doses by the end of 2020.

This is pacing to be INO's highest close since a Jan. 27 annual high of $5.95, when the company linked up with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Even though the shares endured pullbacks since that peak, they were neatly contained by their 50-day moving average. 

A short squeeze is in play that could keep the wind at the equity's back. Although INO is on the short-sale restricted list today, short interest increased by 30.6% in the two most recent reporting periods. This accounts for a healthy 13.4% of the stock's total available float. 

Meanwhile, calls dominate the picture among options traders. In the last 10 days, 45,176 calls have been bought at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), compared to just 4,653 puts. 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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