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Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (IONS) Plunges After GSK Foregos Phase 3 Study of TTRRx

Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IONS) shares have plunged by 35% this morning after GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK), which has an option to exclusively license IONIS-TTRRx, decided not to initiate a Phase 3 study, CARDIO-TTR, which was intended to evaluate IONIS-TTRRx in patients with TTR amyloid cardiomyopathy. In April, the FDA placed the study on clinical hold due to safety findings in another ongoing study, NEURO-TTR. GlaxoSmithKline will consider options for TTR amyloid cardiomyopathy once additional data is available from the ongoing studies.

Dr. Helen Merianos, the Medicine Development Leader for GSK’s TTR amyloidosis program said:

“GSK remains committed to developing innovative medicines for the treatment of amyloidosis and to our ongoing collaboration with Ionis to develop IONIS-TTRRx for TTR amyloidosis. We will assess the results from the NEURO-TTR study to inform our next steps for TTR amyloid cardiomyopathy.”

Despite the setback, BMO Capital Markets analyst Do Kim reiterated an ‘Outperform’ rating and $55 price target on the stock, which now represents upside potential of close to 150%.

You probably know from experience that there is not as much information on small-cap companies as there is on large companies. Of course, this makes it really hard for individual investors to make proper and accurate analyses of certain small-cap companies. However, well-known and successful hedge fund investors like Carl Icahn and George Soros hold the necessary resources and abilities to conduct an extensive stock analysis on small-cap stocks, which enable them to make millions of dollars by identifying potential winners within the small-cap galaxy of stocks. This represents the main reason why Insider Monkey takes notice of the hedge fund activity in these overlooked stocks.

Heading into the second quarter of 2016, a total of 15 of the hedge funds tracked by Insider Monkey were long this stock, a 21% decline from the end of the previous quarter. Those 15 hedge funds held $127 million worth of the company’s shares, amounting to a modest 2.60% of its float. Israel Englander‘s Millennium Management opened a large new position of 1.08 million shares of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IONS) during the first quarter, while Sanford J. Colen’s Apex Capital inched its stake up to 1.06 million shares.

We track prominent investors and hedge funds because our research has shown that historically their stock picks delivered superior risk-adjusted returns. This is especially true in the small-cap space. The 15 most popular small-cap stocks among a select group of investors delivered a monthly alpha of 80 basis points between 1999 and 2012 (see the details here).

However, there were a handful of funds who sold out of their positions in Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:IONS) during Q1. Paul Marshall and Ian Wace’s Marshall Wace LLP sold off its 128,328 shares during the quarter, while Dmitry Balyasny’s Balyasny Asset Management sold its position of 185,954 shares.

Disclosure: None

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