Stock Quotes in this Article: AIRM, ASIA, COST, OMPI, QCOR

WINDERMERE, Fla. (Stockpickr) -- Professional traders running mutual funds and hedge funds don’t just look at a stock’s price moves; they also track big changes in volume activity. Many times when above average volume moves into equity it precedes a large spike in volatility.

Major moves in volume can signal unusual activity, such as insider buying or selling -- or buying or selling by “superinvestors.”

>>5 Stocks Under $10 Poised for Breakouts

Unusual volume can also be a major signal that hedge funds and momentum traders are piling into a stock ahead of a catalyst. These types of traders like to get in well before a large spike, so it’s always a smart move to monitor unusual volume. That said, remember to combine trend and price action with unusual volume. Put them all together to help you decipher the next big trend for any stock.

With that in mind, let's take a look at several stocks rising on unusual volume today.

>>ACTIVE STOCK TRADERS: Check out Stockpickr’s special offer for Real Money, headlined by Jim Cramer, now!

Obagi Medical Products

Obagi Medical Products (OMPI) is a specialty pharmaceutical company that develops, markets and sells, and is a provider of, topical aesthetic and therapeutic prescription-strength skin care systems and related products in the physician-dispensed market. This stock is trading up 6.7% at $14.73 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 484,000

Average Volume: 127,794

Volume % Change: 754%

>>22 Biopharma Stocks With Breakout Potential in 2012

From a technical perspective, OMPI is soaring higher here with monster volume. This move has pushed OMPI into breakout territory since the stock is hitting a new three-year high and taking out its past overhead resistance at $14.28.

Traders should continue to look for long-biased trades as long as OMPI is trending above $14.28 with strong upside volume flows . I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 127,794 shares as bullish. If we continue to see that action, then OMPI could easily hit $17 to $20 in the near future.

AsiaInfo-Linkage

AsiaInfo-Linkage (ASIA) is a provider of telecommunications software solutions and information technology, related services in the People’s Republic of China. This stock is trading up 11.6% at $12.37 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 620,000

Average Volume: 350,878

Volume % Change: 381%

Shares of ASIA are soaring higher today after Reuters reported that private equity funds including Silverlake, TPG Capital and Primavera Capital are considering bids for the company. Sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters that the deal could be worth more than $1 billion.

>>5 Tech Stocks to Watch if QE3 Happens

From a technical perspective, ASIA is exploding higher as the stock moves back above its 50-day moving average of $11.44 with monster volume. This move is quickly pushing ASIA within range of triggering a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit once ASIA takes out some near-term overhead resistance at $12.98 with high-volume. At last check, ASIA has hit an intraday high of $13.00 but has since then pulled back to near $12.40.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades once ASIA sustains a move or close above $12.98 with high volume. Look for volume on that move that hits near or above 350,878 shares. If we get that action today or soon, then look for ASIA to re-test and possibly take out its March high of $13.90.

Air Methods

Air Methods (AIRM) is a provider of air medical emergency transport services and systems throughout the U.S. This stock is trading up 2.2% at $91.21 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 126,000

Average Volume: 73,511

Volume % Change: 266%

From a technical perspective, AIRM is bouncing hard here right off its 50-day moving average of $88.62 with heavy volume. This move is pushing AIRM within range of triggering a breakout trade. That trade will hit once AIRM takes out some near-term overhead resistance at $93 to $94.95 with high volume.

>>5 Stocks Setting Up to Break Out

Traders should now look for long-biased trades if AIRM can sustain a move or close above those levels with volume that’s near or above 75,511 shares. If we get that action soon, then AIRM will enter new 52-week high territory, and it should tag $100 rather quickly.

On the flipside, I would avoid AIRM or look for short-biased trades if it were to move back below its 50-day at $88.62, and then below some major near-term support at $86.37.

MWI Veterinary Supply

MWI Veterinary Supply (MWIV) is a distributor animal health products to veterinarians across the U.S. and the U.K. This stock is trading up 2.8% at $97.46 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 79,000

Average Volume: 65,717

Volume % Change: 145%

From a technical perspective, MWIV is ripping higher here on above-average volume, and the stock has entered breakout territory with shares now above some near-term overhead resistance at $94.99.

Traders should continue to look for long-biased trades as long as MWIV is trending above $94.99 to today’s low of $94.94 with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 65,717 shares as bullish. If we continue to see that action, then WMIV has a great chance of re-testing and possibly taking out its May high of $100.64.

Questcor Pharmaceuticals

Questcor Pharmaceuticals (QCOR) is a biopharmaceutical company. Questcor’s primary product is H.P. Acthar Gel (repository corticotropin injection) (Acthar), an injectable drug that is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, for the treatment of 19 indications. This stock is trading up 3.3% at $47.95 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 1.6 million

Average Volume: 1.75 million

Volume % Change: 68%

Shares of QCOR are ripping higher today after the stock was upgraded by two different firms. Jefferies raised its target to $56 from $52 and reiterated its buy rating, while Oppenheimer upped its target to $59 from $53 and reiterated an outperform rating.

>>Stocks With Recent Analyst Upgrades

From a technical perspective, QCOR is moving notably higher here with decent volume. This move now has QCOR flirting with a major breakout trade, since the stock has briefly moved above some near-term overhead resistance at $48.98. At last check, QCOR has hit an intraday high of $49.13 and volume is very close to passing its three-month average action of 1.75 million shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades as long as QCOR is trending above $48.98 to $49.13 with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 1.75 million shares as bullish. If we get that action, then look for QCOR to tag $55 in the near future.

Also, keep in mind that a move above $49.13 will now mark an all-time high for QCOR, which is very bullish technical price action.

Questcor shows up on a recent list of Hot Biotech Stocks Traded by Hedge Funds.

Bob Evans Farms

Bob Evans Farms (BOBE) is a full-service restaurant company that operates two restaurant concepts: Bob Evans Restaurants and Mimi’s Cafes. The company also owns and operates BEF Foods, a producer and distributor of pork sausage and complementary homestyle convenience food items. This stock is trading up 1.3% at $39.30 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 130,000

Average Volume: 156,956

Volume % Change: 56%.

From a technical perspective, BOBE is moving modestly higher here as the stock continues its upside momentum off of yesterday’s move back above its 50-day moving average of $38.52. This run today is also pushing BOBE within range of a near-term breakout trade. That trade will hit once BOBE takes out some near-term overhead resistance at $39.50 with high volume.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades if BOBE can sustain a move or close above $39.50 with volume that’s near or above 156,956 shares. If we get that action today or soon, then BOBE has a great chance of re-testing or possibly taking out its 52-week high of $41.06.

On the flipside, I would avoid BOBE or look for short-biased trades if it fails to trigger that breakout, and then takes out its 50-day at $38.42 and then some near-term support at $37.57 to $37.48 with high-volume.

Costco Wholesale

Costco Wholesale (COST),with its subsidiaries, operates membership warehouses that offer its members low prices on a limited selection of branded and selected private-label products in a range of merchandise categories. This stock is trading up 1% at $90.75 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 1.95 million

Average Volume: 2.3 million

Volume % Change: 57%.

From a technical perspective, COST is bouncing a bit here right off some near-term support at $90 with decent volume. This move is quickly pushing COST within range of triggering a major breakout trade. That trade will hit once COST takes out some near-term overhead resistance at $91.80 with high-volume. At last check, COST has hit an intraday high of $91.64 and volume is just a bit under its three-month average action of 2.3 million shares.

Traders should now look for long-biased trades if COST can sustain a move or close above $91.80 with volume that’s near or above 2.3 million shares. If we get that action today or soon, then COST will enter new all-time high territory and likely tag $100 or higher very soon.

As of the most recently reported quarter, Costco was one of Warren Buffett's stocks.

Portfolio Recovery Associates

Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRAA) is engaged in the detection, collection and processing of both unpaid and normal-course accounts receivable originally owed to credit grantors, governments, retailers and others. This stock is trading up 4% at $75.87 in recent trading.

Today’s Volume: 121,000

Average Volume: 108,277

Volume % Change: 107%.

From a technical perspective, PRAA is moving sharply higher here with above average volume. This move has now pushed PRAA into major breakout territory since the stock has taken out some near-term overhead resistance at $74 to $74.97.

Traders should continue to look for long-biased trades as long as PRAA is trending above $74 to $74.97 with strong upside volume flows. I would consider any upside volume day that registers near or above 108,277 shares as bullish. If we continue to see that action, then PRAA should easily re-test its next significant overhead resistance levels at $82.50 to $85.

To see more stocks rising on unusual volume, check out the Stocks Rising On Unusual Volume portfolio on Stockpickr.

-- Written by Roberto Pedone in Winderemere, Fla.

RELATED LINKS:

>>7 Stocks Shoveling More Cash to Investors
>>5 Stocks Insiders Love Right Now

>>10 Low-Risk Dividend Stocks for a Volatile Market

Follow Stockpickr on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.

At the time of publication, author had no positions in stocks mentioned

Roberto Pedone, based out of Windermere, Fla., is an independent trader who focuses on stocks, options, futures, commodities and currencies. He is also an outside contributor to Beconequity.com and maintains the website Maddmoney.net, which he sold to Blue Wave Advisors in 2008. Roberto studied International Business at The Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he spent a year overseas studying business in Lubeck, Germany.