Yet again we’ve had a pretty busy week in the biotech space. Macro forces are coming in to play, and combined with what proved a busy release calendar, really moved a number of companies in the sector. Here are two end-of-the-week biotech movers, with a look at what’s driving the action in each, and where we expect things to go next week.
So, let’s kick things off with Immunomedics, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMMU).
This one is a bit of a roundabout driver, but one that is well worth a look nonetheless. The company opened up the Thursday session at a little over $5 a share. By session close, it was trading for more than $6 a pop – that’s a close to 20% run throughout the session. The company jumped on the back of some news relating to a deal with biotech company Seattle Genetics, Inc. (NASDAQ:SGEN). The latter had agreed to pick up the rights to Immunomedics’ lead asset, a drug called IMMU-132, in exchange for a $250 million upfront payment and a raft of milestones that had the potential to boost Immunomedics’ income on the arrangement to circa $2 billion.
At the time of the deal’s announcement, it was viewed as a positive development, and both companies picked up some strength on the news. The latest development, however, has seen a judge rule on the deal, and place a 30-day hold period on its closing. So, the two companies cannot close out the deal for the period of the hold, and at first glance, this seems like a negative development. Dig a little deeper, however, and things don’t look quite so bad. Basically, Immunomedics, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMMU) has had a board reshuffle, and the line of thought seems to be that the new board will be able to negotiate an improved deal (or even a full sale of the company to Seattle) during the 30-day halt timeframe.
Exactly how this one is going to play out remains to be seen, but as far as we see it, there are three possible outcomes. The first, that the deal closes out after the 30 days as initially planned, under the same terms. If it does, we’ll probably see Immunomedics, Inc. (NASDAQ:IMMU) take a hit early month in April as markets realign. The second, that management secures better terms. In this scenario, we’ll see a flat or strengthening valuation. The third, that management negotiates a full sale, and the company is sold for a premium on the current price. This latter outcome is likely the real value driver for shareholders, at least near term.
So, moving on to Ocera Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:OCRX), this one’s a little simpler.
Readers may remember our coverage of this stock back in January, when the company took a hit on the back of an announcement that its lead asset, intravenous OCR-002, which the company was investigating in hospitalized patients with Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE), failed to meet its primary endpoint in a phase IIb trial.
Well, this week, and on the back of a secondary analysis of the data collected as part of the just mentioned trial, Ocera management has announced that it thinks it’s identified some numbers that might indicate sufficient benefit to warrant further development of the drug. The situation isn’t entirely clear right now, but with the new data in hand, the company thinks it can hammer out a forward development plan with the FDA. There’s a plan in place to meet with the FDA during the third quarter of this year, and it’s the outcome of this meeting that markets are trading on right now. The company was trading at just $0.59 a share early this week. By the Thursday close, this had run up to more than $1 a share, and Ocera Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:OCRX) will open the session on Friday at $1.89 a piece. That’s a close to 300% run in just a couple of sessions.
Like we say, there’s not an awful lot of clarity as to how this one will mature, since the FDA’s interpretation of the data is what’s going to really matter here. As such, we’re predicting that this one will top out today, and then run steady into the third quarter meeting.
Note: This article is written by Mark Collins and was originally published at Market Exclusive.