Alkermes Plc (ALKS) Ascent Sends Options Volume to the Moon

Drug stocks are on fire today, including biotech Alkermes Plc (ALKS)

May 20, 2016 at 1:33 PM
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A number of drug stocks are making moves higher, and biotech Alkermes Plc (NASDAQ:ALKS) is no exception amid unsubstantiated takeover talk. Up 8.4% at $42.55 ahead of next Wednesday's annual shareholder meeting, the stock is seeing call options fly off the shelves at 30 times the expected intraday rate. By the numbers, nearly 2,300 calls are on the tape, compared to an expected volume of 84 contracts.

Digging deeper, the soon-to-be front-month June series accounts for the two most active strikes. Specifically, buy-to-open activity is detected at the June 42 and 47 calls, suggesting traders are confident ALKS will extend its upward momentum through the close on Friday, June 17, when the options expire.

Today's call buyers aren't the only ones confident in the stock. In fact, four of six analysts rate ALKS a "strong buy," compared to one "hold" and a single "strong sell" opinion. However, today's big gains have the shares just a stone's throw from their consensus 12-month price target of $44.40, suggesting price-target hikes could come down the pike -- assuming ALKS can add to its gains.

A further capitulation among short sellers would certainly help. Short interest retreated during the latest reporting period, but it would still take nearly a week for the shorts to cover all of their bearish bets, at average daily volumes. In other words, there's sideline cash available to fuel an extended upside run in ALKS stock.

Speaking of running higher, the shares have done exactly that since bottoming at $27.14 in mid-March -- a two-year low. That said, Alkermes Plc (NASDAQ:ALKS) is far from a sure thing. The biotech stock was absolutely decimated on a bearish gap in January, and even with today's huge lead, is sitting on a year-to-date loss of 46%.

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