Option Bulls Mob Soaring MannKind Corporation (MNKD)

MannKind Corporation (MNKD) is higher on Afrezza buzz

by Andrea Kramer

Published on Jun 8, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Once again, the shares of drugmaker MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ:MNKD) are flying in the face of broad-market headwinds. The stock is up 17.7% at $7.20, after a Griffin Securities analyst said the firm is "probably benefiting from a new effort" by Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY) to increase doctor awareness of Afrezza, MNKD's inhaled insulin product to which SNY has rights to develop and sell. What's more, options traders are rolling the dice on even more upside for MNKD this week. 

MNKD calls are crossing the tape at three times the average intraday rate, and have outnumbered puts by a margin of more than 5-to-1. It looks like short-term bulls are buying to open the weekly 6/12 7-strike call at a volume-weighted average price (VWAP) of $0.22. As such, the buyers' profit will increase the higher MNKD soars north of $7.22 (strike plus VWAP) by the close on Friday, when weekly options expire -- which encompasses the company's presentation at the Goldman Sachs Healthcare Conference on Wednesday.

Although MNKD has now advanced roughly 38% in 2015 -- and 39% in June alone -- bullish betting is still relatively rare for the stock. On the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the security's 10-day put/call volume ratio sits at an annual high of 1.94.

Likewise, short interest represents nearly 42% of MNKD's total available float -- about three weeks' worth of pent-up buying demand, at the stock's average pace of trading -- and just three of seven analysts offer up "buy" or better ratings. Plus, the equity's average 12-month price target of $7.46 is just a stone's throw from MNKD's current perch. 

Considering MannKind Corporation (NASDAQ:MNKD) has been a broad-market standout of late -- and since the stock's 14-day Relative Strength Index (RSI) now sits in overbought territory at 76 -- it's possible that some of the recent put buying could be attributable to hedging among MNKD shareholders. By purchasing puts to open -- especially at out-of-the-money strikes -- the traders can lock in an attractive exit price, should MNKD take a turn for the worse.

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