Short Sellers Continue to Decrease Bets in Major Pharma

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The short interest data have been released for the October 30 settlement date. Pharmaceutical companies are usually 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.

The October 30 short interest data have been compared with the previous figures, and for most of the selected pharmaceutical stocks, short interest was down.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) saw its short interest fall to 50.73 million shares from the previous 71.37 million. In February, short interest spiked incredibly, and since that time it has slowly backed off. The highest short interest reading on the year was 207.4 million. Shares of Pfizer closed Tuesday at $33.79, within a 52-week trading range of $28.47 to $36.46.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) saw short interest decrease to 27.83 million shares from 38.03 million in the previous period. The previous reading is the highest in the past 52 weeks. Merck shares closed Tuesday at $54.43, in a 52-week trading range of $45.69 to $63.62.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) short interest fell to 5.63 million shares. The previous level was 7.93 million. The highest level in the past 52 weeks was 10.25 million in mid-August. Shares of Teva closed Tuesday at $59.94, in a 52-week range of $54.17 to $72.31.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) saw its short interest decrease to 23.72 million shares from the previous reading of 24.76 million. Bristol-Myers shares closed Tuesday at $65.05, within a 52-week range of $51.82 to $70.54.

AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) short interest increased to 19.87 million shares from the previous level of 34.17 million. Short interest has backed way off its highest level year to date in May. Shares of AbbVie closed Tuesday at $62.30, in a 52-week trading range of $45.45 to $71.60.

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