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Nektar Therapeutics (NKTR), Stemline Therapeutics Inc (STML): Humongous Health-Care Stocks This Week

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While the market jittered this week over what the Federal Reserve will do next, some stocks didn’t flinch. The fortunate investors were those who held shares in one or more of these three humongous health-care stocks.

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR)

Best-performing biotech IPO

Stemline Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:STML) has only traded publicly this year, but what a year it’s been. The stock’s performance ranks Stemline Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:STML) as the best-performing biotech IPO so far in 2013. This week has been pretty good also, with shares moving up by 28%.

The catalysts for Stemline Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:STML) over the past few days came from analysts. First, Ladenburg Thalmann initiated coverage on the biotech with a “buy” rating. Later in the week, Aegis Capital reiterated its “buy” recommendation for the stock and also raised its price target from $35 to $40 per share.

All the excitement stems mainly from Stemline Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:STML)’s experimental drug SL-401. Earlier this month, the FDA gave orphan drug designation to SL-401 for the treatment of blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm, a rare blood disease. Stemline Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:STML) previously received orphan drug designation for the drug for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.

No dilution worries here
Often when a biotech announces a new share offering, its stock will fall because of investor concerns about dilution. There were no worries for Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) with its recently announced offering, though. Shares jumped 20% for the week.

The main driver for the stock came from Oppenheimer’s initiation of coverage for Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) with an “outperform” rating and a $60 price target. That price level makes the announced secondary offering price of $33.01 per share sound really good, even though the secondary offering will dilute the number of outstanding shares by around 10%.

Oppenheimer’s optimism on Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) stems from its view that Intercept Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:ICPT) will report good news in 2014 from its phase 3 study of obeticholic acid in treating primary biliary cirrhosis. The investment firm also likes the added potential for the drug to treat other follow-on indications.

How sweet it is

Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) shareholders saw sweet gains this week. The stock climbed 18% on positive clinical study results.

The good news for Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR) was that patients didn’t like its experimental painkiller, Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR)-181. How is that good news? The problem with current opioid analgesics used to reduce pain is that patients enjoy the euphoria produced by the drugs so much that they become addicted to them. Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NKTR)-181 is designed to enter the brain slowly, thereby reducing the levels of euphoria that can lead to addiction.

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