Ligand Pharmaceuticals

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Another earnings short-squeeze play is biotechnology and drugs player Ligand Pharmaceuticals ( LGND), which is set to release numbers on Wednesday after the market close. Wall Street analysts, on average, expect Ligand Pharmaceuticals to report revenue of $13.27 million on earnings of 21 cents per share.

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If you're looking for a stock with a decent short interest that's trending strong heading into its earnings report, then make sure to take a hard look at shares of Ligand Pharmaceuticals. This stock has traded up 25% during the last three months, and it's currently trading just 2 points off its 52-week high of $21.75 a share.

The current short interest as a percentage of the float for Ligand Pharmaceuticals is notable at 7.4%. That means that out of the 12.49 million shares in the tradable float, 1.46 million shares are sold short by the bears. Any bullish earnings news could easily spark short-squeeze for shares of LGND post-earnings.

From a technical perspective, LGND is currently trending above both its 50-day and 200-day moving averages, which is bullish. This stock has been trending sideways for the last month and change, with shares moving between $18.42 on the downside and 21.75 on the upside. A high-volume move above the upper-end of its recent range will triggering a breakout trade for shares of LGND post-earnings.

If you're bullish on LGND, then I would wait until after its report and look for long-biased trades if this stock manages to break out above some near-term overhead resistance levels at $20.98 to $20.99 a share and then once it clears more resistance at $21.75 a share with high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above its three-month average action of 150,774 shares. If that breakout triggers, then LGND will set up to enter new 52-week high territory above $21.75 a share, which is bullish technical price action. Some possible upside targets off that breakout are $25 to $28 a share.

I would avoid LGND or look for short-biased trades if after earnings it fails to trigger that breakout, and then drops back below its 50-day moving average of $20.08 a share with high volume. If we get that move, then LGND will set up to re-test or possibly take out its next major support levels at $19.35 to $19.03 a share. Any high-volume move below those levels will then put $18.42 to $17.69 into range for shares of LGND.

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