FDA COVID-19 Vaccine Investigation Trips Up Inovio Stock

The stock is down nearly 60% for the quarter

Assistant Editor
Sep 28, 2020 at 10:22 AM
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The shares of Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) are plummeting this morning, last seen down 34.2% to trade at $11.15, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a "partial clinical hold" on the biotech's phase 2/3 clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate INO-4800, including its Cellectra 2000 delivery device -- used in the trial. Inovio said it will respond to the FDA's questions concerning the experimental treatment next month. 

On the charts, INO has struggled to break back above the now resistant $18.50 level after a bear gap sent the stock south of here in early August. The equity still boasts an impressive 396% year-over-year lead, though it's staring at a 57.7% deficit for the quarter, and just fell below its 180-day moving average for the first time in nearly two weeks. 

Short sellers have been piling, which could be putting even more pressure on INO. In the last two reporting periods, short interest rose almost 35%. Now the 51.82 million shares sold short make up an eyebrow-raising 52.9% of the stock's available float. 

Option traders are turning bearish on INO, too. The equity's 50-day put/call volume ratio of 0.62 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) stands higher than 93% of readings from the past year, meaning long puts are being picked up at a faster-than-usual pace. Echoing this, the stock sports a Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) that sits in the 98th percentile of its annual range, meaning short-term options traders have rarely been more put-biased.

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