Why Are These Healthcare Stocks Making Big Moves Today?

The week’s trading is underway and several biotech stocks are hot out of the gates, making big early morning gains. On the other hand, one stock broke stride at the starting line and is going backwards around the valuation track. Let’s dig into which stocks are doing what, and why.

Let’s start with Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:ESPR), which took a big tumble towards the end of September, but which we noted had strong hedge fund sentiment backing it, which made it an attractive stock on the dip. Shares have made a big rebound since then, up by nearly 40%, including a 4.32% gain this morning. The latest surge came after Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY) announced that it would cease development of evacetrapib, which had been a potential competitor to Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:ESPR)’s own cardiovascular treatment, which is in Phase 3 testing. Dennis Purcell’s Aisling Capital will be particularly pleased with the recent spurt in Esperion Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:ESPR)’s stock, as it owned 1.64 million shares of it.

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Let’s move on to Can Fite Biopharma Ltd (ADR) (NYSEMKT:CANF), which is up by 16.49% this morning. We covered the stock last month after it received Fast Track Designation from the FDA for its lung cancer drug CF102, which sent its shares skyrocketing by more than 200% in two days. Today it was announced that the same treatment, which is in Phase 2 testing, has received Orphan Drug designation by the EMA, which will open up Can Fite Biopharma Ltd (ADR) (NYSEMKT:CANF) to a wealth of incentives for the development of the treatment. Unfortunately for the investors that we track, not one of them held a position in the lucrative stock as of June 30. Jim Simons’ RenTech and Ken Griffin’s Citadel Advisors both owned miniscule positions in Can Fite Biopharma Ltd (ADR) (NYSEMKT:CANF) on March 31, but closed them during the second quarter.

We’ll check out two more hot stocks and the big morning loser on the following page.

Let’s get back to Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY), which as mentioned, has discontinued its cardiovascular treatment due to disappointing results, sending shares gapping lower this morning, down by 7.67%. The company announced that shareholders should expect a $0.05 per share charge in the fourth quarter owing to the decision. The disappointing results come after a strong close to last week, as it gained 5% on Friday after announcing the acquisition of the rights to Locemia Solutions’ treatment for severe hypoglycemia in diabetes sufferers. The elite investors that we track were not high on Eli Lilly and Co (NYSE:LLY), owning just 1.40% of its shares on June 30. Cliff Asness’ AQR Capital held some of those, 1.99 million in all, though it trimmed its position by 15% during the second quarter.

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Let’s get back to the positive news now by looking at Celsion Corporation (NASDAQ:CLSN), which is up by 7.60% this morning and by 16.37% over the past week. A press release issued by the company this morning detailed remarkable preclinical study results of its immunotherapy treatment GEN-1 IL-12, for the treatment of ovarian cancer. A combination treatment of GEN-1 with Avastin and Doxil showed superior results in mice with ovarian cancer as opposed to other treatment options, including the Avastin/Doxil combination without GEN-1. While just four investors in our database held positions in Celsion Corporation (NASDAQ:CLSN) on June 30, two of them made substantial increases to their holdings during the quarter. Hal Mintz’ Sabby Capital boosted its stake by 175% to over 633,000 shares, while Jim Simons’ RenTech buffed its position by 72% to 71,210 shares.

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Lastly we come to Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:AQXP), the hottest stock of those covered in this article, having gained 17.96% today. Shares of the Canadian biotech gained nearly 1,000% during a two-day stretch in mid-August following the release of positive Phase 2 trial data for AQX-1125 in the treatment of bladder pain. Shares have since retreated by about 30% from their high shortly after that, but are still up by over 100% this year. Investors we track cashed in on Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:AQXP)’s monster third quarter, as they owned 27.10% of its shares on June 30. That was boosted even higher just before its leap, as the talented Baker Bros. Julian Baker and Felix Baker boosted their stake in Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:AQXP) to 4.27 million shares in early August, a 39.8% ownership stake in the company.

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