Put Buyers Hammer Sinking Mallinckrodt Stock on Lawsuit News

MNK put volume is 13 times the norm today

Managing Editor
Apr 12, 2018 at 2:34 PM
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Pharmaceutical concern Mallinckrodt PLC (NYSE:MNK) stock is plummeting today, down 9% to trade at $13.44, and earlier touching a record low of $13.32. Sending the drug stock lower is a Business Insider report of a "bombshell lawsuit" alleging an "elaborate scheme" by Mallinckrodt and a mail order pharmacy to push Acthar -- a treatment often used for infantile spasms, but heavily funded by Medicare -- without knowing what's actually in the drug.

In response to the whistleblower suit, Stifel issued a downgrade to "hold" from "buy," while slashing its price target on MNK stock by 70% -- to $15 from $50. Prior to the news, SunTrust Robinson initiated coverage with a "hold" and $15 price target.

Amidst the chaos, options bears are flocking to the cratering drug stock. Taking a closer look, roughly 11,000 MNK put options have changed hands today, 13 times the average intraday volume. The most popular is the May 15 put, with over 7,500 contracts exchanged. Also popular is the May 12.50 put, where data suggests possible buy-to-open activity. By purchasing the puts to open, the buyers expect MNK stock to sink below $12.50 in the coming weeks.

Taking a step back shows today's put bias is more of the same. The security has a 10-day put/call volume ratio of 4.93 at the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX). Not only does this show that puts have outnumbered calls by a near 5-to-1 ratio in the past two weeks, but the reading ranks in the 87th percentile of its annual range. This indicates that recent options buyers have picked up MNK puts over calls at a faster-than-usual pace during the past two weeks.

Mallinckrodt stock has now shed 40% in 2018, and 69% in the past 12 months. The shares have been guided lower by their descending 30-day and 50-day moving averages since August.  Although the stock is currently short-sale restricted, plenty of short sellers are likely cheering today's decline, as a whopping 41% of MNK's total available float is sold short.



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