Alcobra Ltd (ADHD) Options Volume Explodes After MDX Trial Hold

Alcobra Ltd (ADHD) call volume has swelled to 16 times what's typically seen at this point in the day

Sep 29, 2016 at 11:43 AM
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Alcobra Ltd (NASDAQ:ADHD) is having a rough day, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a clinical hold on a late-stage trial of ADHD's cognitive disorder drug, metadoxine extended release (MDX), due to "adverse neurological findings" in a preclinical data review. ADHD is currently down 55% at $2.08 -- after notching a new all-time low of $1.95 earlier -- and back below its 10-month moving average, a trendline the stock has struggled against in recent months. Options volume, meanwhile, is soaring.

Specifically, calls are trading at 16 times their average intraday rate -- although numbers are still relatively low on an absolute basis. Nevertheless, option volume is set to hit the 99th percentile of its annual range, and seven of ADHD's 10 most active options are calls. Most active is the November 4 call, which appears to be seeing sell-to-open action, as traders bet on a ceiling.

Widening the sentiment scope, ADHD's 50-day put/call volume ratio at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX) of 1.90 sits higher than 94% of all other readings from the last 12 months, showing an elevated appetite for long puts relative to calls in recent months.

In addition, there's likely some short sellers celebrating this latest development. Over 20% of ADHD's float is sold short, which would take more than 22 days to cover, at ADHD's average volume. However, short selling is currently on hold, as today's bear gap has ADHD on the short-sale restricted list.

With six of eight analysts rating ADHD a "buy" or better, the stock seems to be at risk for downgrades -- which could apply additional pressure. Brokerage firms are already changing their tune, with Cantor downgrading the stock to "hold" from "buy," citing an "information void" and the likelihood that "the shares could hover around $2" until more information on Alcobra Ltd's (NASDAQ:ADHD) clinical hold is available. Elsewhere, Oppenheimer lowered its rating on ADHD to "perform."

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