Can Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (INO) Recover from Today's Sell-Off?

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) is getting hammered on the pricing of its secondary stock offering

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Apr 30, 2015 at 11:42 AM

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) is sharply lower at midday, after the drugmaker announced its intent to sell shares of common stock for $8 apiece -- a steep discount to yesterday's close at $9.85. As such, the equity has plunged 16.5% to trade at $8.23, and landed on the short-sale restricted list. Option traders have responded -- especially on the call side, where contracts are running at six times the typical intraday pace.

Leading the way is the deep out-of-the-money August 11 call, which traders are buying to open. In so doing, these speculators anticipate INO will bounce back -- and hurdle $11 -- by the time August options expiration rolls around. However, the shares haven't seen the north side of the strike since mid-November.

On Wall Street, the reaction to today's sell-off is likely mixed. On the one hand, a number of call buyers may be hurting. During the past 10 days on the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), roughly 1,800 calls have been purchased to open versus just eight puts.

On the other hand, short sellers are probably celebrating. Nearly 23% of INO's float is sold short, which would take more than eight sessions to repurchase, at the stock's typical daily trading level. In fact, today's out-of-the-money call buyers could be short sellers looking for an intermediate-term hedge.

Prior to today, Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) was tearing up the charts. Specifically, during the past two months, the shares had outperformed the broader S&P 500 Index (SPX) by 33.3 percentage points.

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