Major Pharma Has Short Sellers on the Run

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The short interest data have been released for the May 31 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.

The May 31 short interest data have been compared with the previous figures, and for the selected pharmaceutical stocks short interest was mixed.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) saw its short interest drop to 55.61 million shares from the previous 84.20 million. Shares of Pfizer closed Thursday at $35.31, within a 52-week trading range of $28.25 to $36.46.

Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) had an increase in short interest to 29.56 million shares from 27.87 million in the previous period. Merck shares closed Thursday at $57.18, in a 52-week range of $45.69 to $60.07.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA) short interest increased to 26.85 million shares. The previous level was 26.20 million. The current level is the highest in the past 52 weeks. Shares of Teva closed Thursday at $53.31, in a 52-week range of $49.51 to $72.31.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) saw its short interest decrease to 16.42 million shares from the previous reading of 17.59 million. Shares closed Thursday at $72.73, within a 52-week range of $51.82 to $75.12.

AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) short interest decreased to 26.53 million shares, compared to the previous level of 28.10 million. Shares of AbbVie closed Thursday at $60.75, in a 52-week trading range of $45.45 to $71.60.