Healthcare Business

Biotech Short Interest Becomes Stock Specific

The short interest data are out for the October 15, settlement date. Biotech companies are considered a riskier group of stocks, with big upside and big downside. FDA rulings can make or break them. A single failed clinical trial can mean disaster for a stock. 24/7 Wall St. has reviewed the top biotech companies, without focusing on speculative companies, such as Ebola-vaccine companies.

The October 15 short interest data has been compared with the September 30 figures, and the trend in biotech leaders had changed from directional to short sellers becoming stock-specific in their focus.

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) saw its short interest increase to 11.23 million shares, with 2.83 days cover. The previous level was 10.98 million. Mid-September saw the 52-week high for short interest at 12.17 million shares, and at the same time the share price posted an annual high of $144.46 in mid-September. Amgen is set to report its earnings Monday after the close. During this short interest period, the company has reported a successful Phase 3 study for its version of Humira. The stock closed Friday at $147.26, and it has a 52-week trading range of $108.20 to $148.14.

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Biogen Idec Inc.‘s (NASDAQ: BIIB) short interest rose to 3.05 million, with 2.18 days to cover, from the 3.10 million shares short at the end of September. Biogen is another company with short interest within a consistent range, specifically 2.0 million to 3.5 million. Biogen announced earlier this month that it beat earnings in its third-quarter report. Shares closed Friday at $321.67, and they have a 52-week trading range of $230.25 to $358.89.

Celgene Corp. (NASDAQ: CELG) saw its short interest hold consistent at 11.76 million, with 2.33 days to cover. The number of shares short was 12.07 million in mid-September. The short interest for Celgene can be split into two halves for the year: prior to April short interest held within a range of 4 million to 6 million shares, and since then the range has been 11 million to 15 million. Celgene announced a successful drug trial this quarter for its Crohn’s disease treatment and the reaction in the market was very positive. Shares closed Friday at $103.24, within a 52-week trading range of $66.85 to $103.41.

Gilead Sciences Inc.‘s (NASDAQ: GILD) short interest declined slightly to 47.88 million shares, with 3.10 days to cover, from the previous level of 47.99 million. This is the lowest number of shares shorted for Gilead in the past 52-weeks, and it has delineated a declining trend in short interest since late July. Gilead has been hitting 52-week highs during this period, due to a recent approval to sell its new hepatitis C drug. The stock closed Friday at $110.71 and has a 52-week range of $63.50 to $111.47.

MannKind Corp. (NASDAQ: MNKD) saw the number of its shares short fall slightly to 78.21 million, with 10.29 days to cover, from the previous 78.57 million. The current level is the second highest reading for the past 52 weeks, coming in behind the reading from the previous period. Investors appear bearish on this stock and have latched on to its most recent slide from its 52-week high in June. During this period, shares did not make any significant gains, but the company did receive a $150 million payment from Sanofi to help produce an inhaler treatment for diabetes. MannKind shares closed Friday at $5.73, and it has a 52-week trading range of $3.80 to $11.48.

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Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ALXN) saw its short interest fall to 3.25 million, with 2.27 days to cover, from 3.31 million in late September. Alexion has stayed consistent within the range of 3.0 million to 4.5 million shares short throughout the past 52-weeks. Alexion’s chairman of the board, Max Link, recently passed away and was replaced by Leonard Bell, who also acts as the company’s CEO. The stock closed Friday at $190.29, within a 52-week trading range of $113.14 to $190.85.

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