2 Stocks Squeezing Short Sellers

CXRX and HMNY are ripping higher amid apparent short-covering activity

by Alex Eppstein

Published on Oct 21, 2016 at 2:27 PM

While the broader market is modestly lower this afternoon, some stocks -- like this drugmaker -- have absolutely exploded. In the cases of pharma firm Concordia International Corp (NASDAQ:CXRX) and IT expert Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc (NASDAQ:HMNY), it appears short-covering activity is the primary driver. Below, we'll take a closer look at CXRX and HMNY, as well sentiment in the options pits and beyond.

CXRX stock has jumped 26% to trade at $5, making it one of the top performers on the Nasdaq. At their peak, the shares were up close to 40%, marking a record intraday percentage gain. As alluded to, short covering is likely spurring CXRX. By the numbers, short interest makes up nearly 27% of the stock's float, which would take over a week to cover, at its usual trading levels.

With more than 16 million shares on the tape, CXRX stock volume has hit a new annual high. Meanwhile, intraday options volume ranks in the 98th annual percentile, with calls running at 16 times the amount expected at this point in the session. In the lead is the at-the-money November 5 call, where traders are buying new positions -- counting on additional upside through the close on Friday, Nov. 18, when the soon-to-be front-month option expires.

While this doesn't seem like a bold bet given today's bull gap, Concordia International Corp's longer-term track record suggests future gains are anything but guaranteed. Year-to-date, the drugmaker's shares have plummeted almost 88%. At last check, trading was halted on the stock amid news that CEO Mark Thompson has resigned.

Elsewhere, HMNY has more than doubled in value at $11.24, also due to apparent short covering. Plus, the shares were briefly halted twice this morning amid volatility. If the stock can maintain its current perch, it will notch its loftiest daily close since June 20.

That said, it doesn't look like there's much more fuel left in Helios and Matheson Analytics Inc's tank. While short interest accounts for 7.5% of the stock's float, it would take less than one day for all the bears to cover their positions, at HMNY's average trading rate. In other words, much of the available sideline cash may have already been exhausted from today's rally.

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