Short Sellers Hike Bets in Major Pharma Stocks

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Pharmaceutical companies usually are involved in a lengthy process of 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 gains FDA approval or passes a clinical trial, there can be big upside.

The White House has promised reforms in the health care sector, such as changing the bidding process for drugs and shortening the FDA approval process. It is yet to be seen how much headway they can actually make with these reforms.

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.

The June 15 short interest data have been compared with the previous figures, and short interest in most of these selected pharmaceutical stocks increased.

Short interest in Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) increased to 64.69 million shares from the previous 61.71 million. The stock was last seen trading at $36.37, within a 52-week range of $32.32 to $39.43.

The number of Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK) shares short increased to 21.87 million from 18.21 million in the previous period. Its shares were trading at $60.55, in a 52-week range of $52.83 to $66.41.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.’s (NYSE: TEVA) short interest decreased to 47.70 million from the previous level of 49.03 million. Shares were trading at $23.86, in a 52-week range of $10.85 to $33.82.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE: BMY) short interest increased to 14.50 million shares from the previous reading of 13.13 million. Shares were last seen at $54.57, in a 52-week range of $49.96 to $70.05.

The number of shares short in AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV) decreased to 38.44 million, up from the previous 43.50 million. The stock was trading at $92.81, and its 52-week range is $69.38 to $125.86.

Eli Lilly and Co.’s (NYSE: LLY) short interest increased to 12.81 million shares from the previous 12.57 million. The stock was trading at $85.16. The 52-week range is $73.69 to $89.09.