AZN Soars on Vaccine Manufacturing Deal

The equity is up 31% year-over-year

Digital Content Manager
Jun 15, 2020 at 11:42 AM
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The shares of AstraZeneca plc (NYSE: AZN) are up 1.6% to trade at $52.31 this morning, after the British drug maker struck a deal with Italian contract manufacturer Catalent (CTLT) to provide vial filling and packaging for its potential COVID-19 vaccine. The company has signed several deals in the last couple of weeks to meet its global target supply of two billion vaccine doses, including one with U.S. partner Emergent BioSolutions (EBS). Since then, it has also pledged millions of doses to U.S. and European governments, starting by the end of 2020. Though there is currently no formal treatment for the contagious respiratory disease, AstraZeneca's vaccine is among the first to move into mid-stage trials.

Since AZN first came out of its mid-March lows near the $36 level with its vaccine candidate, shares have been on the rise. The equity hit an all-time-high of $57.44 May 21, but have since cooled off slightly. Nonetheless, the stock continues to shine, now sporting a 31% lead year-over-year.

Analysts were feeling overwhelmingly optimistic toward AZN coming into today, with five of six considering it a "strong buy," and only one calling it a "hold." Meanwhile, the 12-month consensus target price of $55.28 is a 5.9% premium to current levels.

This upbeat sentiment is echoed in the options pits, where the appetite for calls is unusually high. In the last 10 days, a whopping 20.09 calls were bought for every put at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). This ratio sits higher than 91% of readings from the past year, meaning calls are being picked up at a faster-than-usual clip.













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