Who Bucked the Short Interest Trend in Biotech Stocks?

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24/7 Wall St. has tracked the short interest in leading biotech and emerging pharmaceutical stocks. Many biotech stocks pulled back in late March, and short sellers moved in on many of them. The largest percentage increases in the number of shares short happened to BioMarin Pharmaceutical, which made a public offering of common stock in early March, and Pharmacyclics, which saw a lot of insider trading early in the month.

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) bucked the trend with a 4.7% decrease in late March to around 10.59 million shares, or 1.4% of the total float. That was the second highest level of short interest since the beginning of the year. It would take less than three days to close out all short positions.

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: BMRN) had a gain in short interest of 20.5% to 6.67 million shares by the end of the month. That was the second greatest number of shares short in the past year, and it totaled 4.6% of the company’s float. It would take less than four days to close out all short positions.

Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) also bucked the trend. Its short interest dropped 6.0% from a year-to-date high in the previous period to about 5.75 million shares by the end of the month. That was 1.4% of Celgene’s float and only the second time short interest has fallen so far this year. It would take a little more than a day to cover all short positions.

Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN) short interest dwindled from 44.54 million shares to the 42.13 million by the end of March. That was the lowest number of shares short in the past year, but it was still 27.7% of the float. Note that the days to cover jumped from about seven to more than 13.

Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) had a 2.5% rise to more than 91.77 million shares short. That was the highest level of short interest in the past year, after rising in 12 of the past 13 periods. It totaled 6.0% of the total float. The days to cover dropped from seven to less than five in the period.

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Pharmacyclics Inc. (NASDAQ: PCYC) saw a 30.0% jump in its short interest to around 2.56 million shares. That was the greatest number of shares short in nearly a year, and it was 4.2% of the total float. The days to cover is less than two.

Other biotech companies that saw an increase in their short interest between the March 14 and March 31 settlement dates include Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Biogen Idec, BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Gilead Sciences, Incyte, Pharmacyclics, Questcor Pharmaceuticals and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

The number of shares sold short in Illumina, Medivation, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and Seattle Genetics also shrank somewhat during the period.