Major Pharma Continues to See Rising Tide in Short Interest

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The short interest data have been released for the September 15 settlement date. Pharmaceutical companies usually are involved in a lengthy process in getting their drug candidates to market through clinical trials. There is a fair amount of risk involved, should a study come back negative or a candidate not be approved. Conversely, if a drug is approved or passes a clinical trial, there can be big upside.

Drug prices may be under pressure due to the campaign rhetoric and under scrutiny, but if generic drugs are going to keep increasing in market share of existing drugs, then there would seem to be a reason for owning major pharmaceuticals.

The September 15 short interest data have been compared with the previous figures, and for most of the selected pharmaceutical stocks, short interest has increased.

Keep in mind that short sellers betting against big pharma are taking on an added risk. They have to pay out the ongoing high dividends on top of the cost of borrowing the shares.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) saw its short interest increase to 42.43 million shares from the previous 39.45 million. Shares of Pfizer closed Monday at $33.64, within a 52-week trading range of $28.25 to $37.39.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) had a small rise in short interest to 30.49 million shares, from 30.01 million in the previous period. Its shares closed Monday at $62.15, in a 52-week range of $47.97 to $64.00.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) short interest increased to 10.81 million shares. The previous level was 9.83 million. Shares closed Monday at $50.27, in a 52-week range of $48.01 to $66.55.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) saw its short interest increase to 13.96 million shares from the previous reading of 12.34 million. Shares closed Monday at $55.48, within a 52-week range of $55.02 to $77.12.

AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) short interest fell to 37.79 million shares, compared to the previous 39.05 million. Shares of AbbVie closed Monday at $64.07, in a 52-week trading range of $45.45 to $68.12.