Equifax Back In the Hot Seat; Vical Stock Rallies On FDA Hopes – Schaeffers Research (blog)

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U.S. stocks are trading higher this morning, with the Dow sailing to higher record highs. Among the stocks making moves this morning are real estate and homebuilder Lennar Corporation (NYSE:LEN), biopharmaceutical company Vical Incorporated (NASDAQ:VICL), and credit service Equifax Inc. (NYSE:EFX). Here’s a closer look at what’s moving shares of LEN, VICL, and EFX.

LEN Shares Pick Up After Third-Quarter Beat

Shares of LEN are higher after the homebuilder reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings. The stock was last seen trading up 2.7% at $54.25, and earlier peaked at $55.41 — just cents from its two-year high of $55.75, tagged after Lennar’s June earnings report. Year-over-year, LEN sports a respectable 26% gain.

At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), options traders have favored calls over puts during the past two weeks. The stock sports a 10-day call/put volume ratio of 2.42, ranking in the 69th percentile of its annual range.  This indicates that LEN options buyers were picking up calls over puts at a faster-than-usual clip heading into earnings.

FDA Optimism Revives VICL Stock

Vical stock was last seen trading up nearly 28% at $3.26 — and earlier touched a new annual high of $3.70 —  after the company said its antifungal drug is eligible for limited use indication (LUI) approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The biopharmaceutical stock is up more than 40% year-to-date, but could run into a wall in the $3.75 area — where the shares traded before a big bear gap just over a year ago.

Quite a few short sellers could be kicking rocks today. Short interest increased 46% over the past two reporting periods, and now represents about a week’s worth of pent-up buying demand, at VICL stock’s average pace of trading. A short squeeze could propel the shares even higher.

Former Equifax CEO Heads to D.C.

Equifax is back in the headlines, after news broke that another 2.5 million customers may have been impacted hit by the company’s recent data breach. In addition, former Equifax CEO Richard Smith — who retired last week — will be facing questions from the House Energy and Commerce Committee today.

The stock was last seen trading 0.4% lower, at $107.41. The shares have jumped about about 20% since their two-year low of $89.59 on Sept. 14, but are still down 24% from a month ago. Despite the drama, however, analysts have remained devoted to Equifax. Of the 14 analysts following EFX, 11 carry “buy” or “strong buy” recommendations.

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