Calls Pop as Drug Stock Gets FDA Boost

The FDA and Omeros agreed on a primary goal for a drug trial

by Patrick Martin

Published on Jul 11, 2019 at 2:46 PM

The shares of Omeros Corporation (NASDAQ:OMER) are up 2.3% to trade at $15.56 today, and earlier traded as high as $16.88. This comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agreed on the main goal of a trial supporting a marketing application for narsoplimab, Omeros' treatment for stem cell transplant-associated thrombotic microangiopathy. In response to the news -- which Cantor Fitzgerald said "has the potential to generate significant value for OMER shareholders" -- the stock's typically quiet options pits have come to life.

More specifically, OMER has seen 2,650 options change hands today -- four times what's typically seen at this point, and volume pacing for the elevated 95th annual percentile. The August 17 and 18 calls are the most active today, but there are also new positions being opened at the July 18 call. Buyers of these front-month calls expect OMER to keep climbing and topple $18 in the next two weeks, before the contracts expire. 

Today's bullish bias echoes a broader trend seen among OMER options traders. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), 917 calls were bought to open in the past two weeks, compared to just 79 puts. Plus, the call/put volume ratio of 11.61 ranks in the elevated 80th percentile of its annual range, indicating calls have been purchased over puts at a faster-than-usual clip in the past two weeks.

Those making those bets might be on to something, because near-term options are attractively priced right now. The security's Schaeffer's Volatility Index (SVI) of 58% sits in just the 9th percentile of its annual range. This means short-term options are pricing in relatively low volatility expectations for OMER.

Omeros stock spent most of 2019 climbing, culminating in a year-to-date high just over $20 in May. Since then, the drug stock has shed nearly 23%, but seems to have found support in the $14.50-$15 region. Year-to-date, the shares are still up 39%.
 
An exodus of short sellers could add to those gains, should OMER extend today's bounce. The 11.43 million shares sold short takes up a hefty 25.5% of the stock's total available float, and almost 29 days' worth of pent-up buying power, at the stock's average pace of trading. 

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