Short Sellers Hike Their Bets in Most Major Pharma Stocks

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The short interest data have been released for the November 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 have been under pressure due to the campaign rhetoric. But now that the election is over and Hillary Clinton—one of the main antagonists of these companies—is no longer running, the pressure has seemingly let up, if just slightly for the moment.

The November 15 short interest data have been compared with the previous figures, and short interest was mixed in the selected pharmaceutical stocks.

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 decrease to 45.68 million shares from the previous 47.03 million. Its shares closed Friday at $31.69, within a 52-week trading range of $28.25 to $37.39.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) saw a decrease in the number of its shares short to 22.20 million, from 23.36 million in the previous period. Its shares closed Friday at $62.21, in a 52-week range of $47.97 to $65.46.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) short interest increased to 16.50 million shares. The previous level was 15.44 million. Shares closed Friday at $38.21, in a 52-week range of $37.12 to $66.55.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) saw its short interest jump to 15.12 million shares, compared to the previous reading of 13.13 million. Shares closed Friday at $56.98, within a 52-week range of $49.03 to $77.12.

AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) short interest increased to 35.34 million shares, compared to the previous 28.63 million. The stock closed Friday at $60.51, in a 52-week trading range of $50.71 to $68.12.