After taking a beating the previous week, medical stocks staged a comeback as attention was focused on the congressional testimony of Robert Mueller.
Here are the top three winners and a couple of laggards going into a nervous week with all eyes now riveted on the July 30-31 meeting of the Federal Reserve:
1) Achillion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq:ACHN) led advancing issues last week, skyrocketing 95% to $4.65. The huge upward blast followed the New Haven, CT-based biotech’s announcement of positive results from a Phase 1 clinical study for experimental oral factor D inhibitor ACH-5228. Some analysts said irrational exuberance was afoot with Achillion investors. After all, the results were only from an early-stage study. There’s a long way to go before ACH-5228 has a shot at winning regulatory approval.
Investors were evidently enthralled over the potential for ACH-5228 to be a best-in-class inhibitor of the alternative pathway (AP) that’s crucial in fighting immune diseases. However, good news for this early-stage pipeline candidate also appeared to boost investors’ enthusiasm about Achillion’s first-generation factor D inhibitor, danicopan (also known as ACH-4471). Achillion plans to initiate a Phase 3 clinical study of danicopan in early 2020. If all goes well, the biotech could be on track to launch its first drug.
2) Elsewhere, Harvard Bioscience Inc. (Nasdaq:HBIO) surged 38% to $2.70 after its second-quarter earnings reflected an improved financial condition as the company focuses on improving its underlying performance. Second-quarter revenue of $29.6 million was a 6% decrease from the prior year quarter, but the Holliston, MA-based scientific instrument manufacturer slashed its net loss to $200,000 after losing $1.5 million the prior year. On a per share basis, the net loss was $0.01 for the quarter, compared to $0.04 for last year’s quarter.
Jim Green, named Chairman and CEO on July 8, said the company can do better despite results in-line with the company’s guidance. He said the company is shifting to focus on lowering expenses and improving revenue and gross margin growth. As such, acquisitions in the near term are put on hold while previous acquisitions are integrated. Harvard Bioscience bills itself as is a global developer, manufacturer and marketer of a broad range of solutions to advance life science.
3) And Anika Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq:ANIK) raced 37% to $55.85. The Bedford, MA-based biotech, which focuses primarily on pain management, tissue regeneration and wound care, announced positive second-quarter results. Anika’s revenue and earnings actually declined from the prior-year period. However, the company handily beat Wall Street analysts’ estimates on both the top and bottom lines.
The smaller the company, the greater the bounce its stock receives from good news. In Anika’s case, the biotech didn’t just beat analysts’ estimates, it demolished them. Anika reported Q2 revenue 10.5% higher than what Wall Street expected. Its earnings per share in the second quarter came in 72% higher than the consensus analyst estimate. That’s the kind of earnings beat that can fire up investors.
4) But Neuralstem Inc. (Nasdaq:CUR) plunged 59% to $2.39 after pricing its second underwritten public offering of 2,777,777 units at $2.70 per unit for gross proceeds of ~$7.5M. Each unit comprises one share of common stock, one short-term warrant to purchase one share of common stock and one long-term warrant to purchase one share of common stock. Shares were trading at $8.50 on July 18—-a drop of an eye-watering 719% the past two weeks.
The additional, staggering dilution crushed shares. The estimated net proceeds of ~$6.6M will be used for the further development of stem cell and small molecule assets, advancement of the company’s acquisition and in-licensing strategy and general corporate purposes. Rockville, MD-based Neuralstem, a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the research and development of nervous system therapies based on its proprietary human neuronal stem cells and small molecule compounds.
5) And Align Technology Inc. (Nasdaq:ALGN) slumped 29% to $198.84. The maker of the popular Invisalign brand of braces, issued a profit warning last week when it reported its latest sales and earnings figures. San Jose, CA-based Align said slowing demand in China was one of the primary reasons for the weak outlook.
“Given the uncertainty in China, our outlook for the third quarter reflects a more cautious view for growth in the Asia Pacific region,” Align CEO Joe Hogan said.
Although Align shipped fewer Invisalign cases than it had expected, Hogan added that the company still views China as a major market opportunity. More than 40% of the nearly 2,000 doctors in Asia the company trained last quarter were in China, Hogan noted. China’s slumping economy has hurt a number of industries, ranging from Big Tech to manufacturing. We can now add dental equipment companies to the list.