Call Traders Swarm Heavily Shorted Pharma Stock

INO already doubled in price this year

Digital Content Manager
Mar 11, 2024 at 2:18 PM
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Options bulls are blasting Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO) after Jefferies hiked its price target to $8 from $4.50 on Friday. So far today, 2,482 calls have crossed the tape -- six times the intraday average volume -- compared to a mere 705 puts. The most popular  is the January 2025 0.5 call, followed closely by the March 12 call, with new positions being opened at the latter.

This hasn't always been the case. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Cboe Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), Inovio Pharmaceuticals stock's 10-day call/put volume ratio ranks higher than 98% of readings from the last 12 months. Echoing this, its Schaeffer's put/call open interest ratio (SOIR) sits higher than 97% of annual readings, indicating short-terms options traders have rarely been more put-biased.

Analysts also lean pessimistic, with three of the five in coverage sporting a "hold" rating. Plus, short interest added a whopping 951.6% in the last two reporting periods, and the 1.71 million shares sold short now make up 7.8% of the stock's available float. It would take these traders almost one week to buy back their bearish bets, at INO's average pace of trading. 

Shares were last seen 22% higher at $12.42, and earlier came just shy of $13 -- their highest level in almost one year. The 20-day moving average served as a springboard for this bounce, which also had the equity breaking through resistance at the $11 level, which capped an early January rally. INO has already more than doubled in price this year.

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