Whoa! What Just Happened to My Stock?

Are we moving away from the fiscal cliff? If House Speaker John Boehner is willing to accept tax hikes without any agreement on spending cuts, we might be, though that hardly solves the problem of debt as far as the eye can see. It's been estimated that if you tax "the rich" at a 100% rate -- effectively take all their money -- you'd be able to run the government for all of about three months.

Yet investors seem happy that movement is being made and pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) 100 points higher yesterday. Naturally financial stocks moved on the thought with Bank of America (NYSE: BAC  ) jumping nearly 4% on the day with JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) rising a more modest 2%.

Yet the three stocks below managed to far outpace the Dow or its components, surging higher by double-digit percentages. Resist the urge to high-five everyone in the cubicles next to you, however. Smart investors won't celebrate until they know why their stock surged, because without a fundamental basis for the bounce, these stocks could just as quickly make the return trip down.

Company

% Gain

Velti (NASDAQOTH: VELTF  )

18.5%

OCZ Technology (NASDAQ: OCZ  )

15.2%

VIVUS (NASDAQ: VVUS  )

13.9%

Financially fit?
Getting one's financial house in order was one of the watchwords yesterday apparently, as both Velti and OCZ Technology soared for such reasons.

In the case of mobile ad and marketing specialist Velti, it was the appointment of a CFO that got investors excited that it was serious about its future. By bringing on board the former head money guy from SAP's (NYSE: SAP  ) Sybase indicated Velti was ready to move past the losses that have plagued it for the past year while setting the stage for a possible sale of the company.

Analysts have floated the possibility that Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) , Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO  ) , Facebook (NASDAQ: FB  ) , or even Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) might be interested. Earlier this summer, I noted that with Velti's purchase of Chinese mobile ad exchange network CASEE it set itself up as an intriguing investment and had increased the size of the average mobile transaction on its platform while also raising guidance. Now that it has an adult in the room, a buyout might make the most sense.

Maybe that's what OCZ needs, a good overseer of its operations. Despite announcing that its investigation into what went wrong last quarter was largely completed, causing the stock to jump yesterday, investors should remain wary until the final report is out. It still hasn't filed its quarterly report after a bid to gain share against Seagate Technology (NASDAQ: STX  ) and Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC  ) went awry and it lost control of customer rebate programs. That led to massive losses and caused its founder and CEO to abruptly resign.

So merely saying they're near completion is hardly worth bidding up the stock so much, because we've been through this before when it announced it was cutting its workforce and streamlining its product offerings, only to see the shares fall again. There's still the persistent hope that Seagate will eventually buy OCZ, but unless and until its financials are sterling, I can't see the drive maker wading into the morass.

Something to get worked up about
For biotech VIVUS, the financial news that got its stock moving related to a burst of sales for its fat-fighting drug Qsymia, which until now has disappointed investors. Early sales haven't been as robust as previously hoped, but two reports yesterday -- and wildly divergent ones at that -- suggest they're at least growing and doing so at a double-digit rate.

Health care industry researchers Symphony Health Solutions say prescriptions roared ahead 44% in mid-November, while IMS Health says they were up 15% during the same period. The discrepancy between the two numbers certainly doesn't add much confidence that what they're estimating is actually true, but since following the news last month that Aetna (NYSE: AET  ) would start covering the weight-loss drug, it's to be expected that we'll start to see a pick up in prescriptions. Based on that alone, even if the analyst numbers prove off, we should start seeing more momentum moving VIVUS' way.

With Belviq from Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA  ) scheduled to go on sale next year, getting the growth spurt in now is key, but we'll likely have to wait until VIVUS reports its next quarterly earnings before we find out the real scope of its growth potential. Let me know in the comments section below if you believe the biotech will be fit or fat by then.

Whoa, Nelly!
The potential market for obesity drugs is massive, but so are the risks. If you're looking for more information on the top two obesity drug players, grab copies of our premium research reports on Arena Pharmaceuticals and VIVUS today. In the reports, our senior biotech analyst, Brian Orelli, Ph.D., breaks down each company's strengths and weaknesses, and explains the critical issues you need to know about. News in this space moves fast, so both reports come with a full year of updates. Click now for exclusive information on Arena and VIVUS.


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