Esperion Therapeutics Inc (ESPR) Pop Fails to Deter Put Traders

Esperion Therapeutics Inc (ESPR) skeptics are hoping today's drug-induced gains are short-lived

Alex Eppstein
Oct 13, 2016 at 11:45 AM
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Esperion Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ESPR) has soared 9.7% to hover near $13.52, after the drugmaker announced positive data from a mid-stage study on its cholesterol treatment. Trading is heavy across the board, too, with intraday stock and option volume running in the 99th and 100th annual percentiles, respectively.

Digging deeper into the options action, calls and puts are trading near parity on an absolute basis. However, relatively speaking, put activity is going off at a much faster-than-usual pace, at 10 times the norm. Also, the most heavily exchanged strike is the October 12 put.

Today's preference for puts is business as usual, when it comes to ESPR options. Taking a look at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), the stock has seen long puts nearly triple calls in the past two weeks. In fact, the resultant put/call volume ratio of 2.77 ranks just 5 percentage points from an annual high.

Bears have been prowling elsewhere on the Street, too. For instance, 21.6% of ESPR's float is sold short, which would take one week to buy back, at the stock's average trading volume. Not to mention, seven of nine analysts rating the shares have handed them a tepid "hold" assessment.

This negativity isn't entirely surprising. Today's gains aside, Esperion Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:ESPR) has been a disaster on the charts. On a year-over-year basis, the stock has surrendered more than 38% of its value, and has seen recent breakout attempts contained by the descending 30-week moving average.

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