I know I blogged as recently as last week that I thought there wouldn't be much reason to write about Dendreon (DNDN) for awhile, but I couldn't help myself when I got an email Wednesday night from Merriman Curhan Ford, which is launching coverage of DNDN with a "Sell" rating.
I am doing so at my own peril since I know I'm going to take it on the chin from the Dendreonians for even calling attention to an analyst's bearish position on the stock.
Baby biotechs like Dendreon typically get little, if any, analyst coverage so on that level alone you could argue it's worth at least this brief mention.
The analyst, Joe Pantginis, is initiating coverage of a handful of biotechs, but DNDN is the only one in the bunch that he's telling risk-averse investors to stay away from. In the research note to clients titled, "All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go," he writes, "We believe the stock has been too emotionally charged from both an investor and political standpoint and we would avoid the shares at this time."
Pantginis has several reasons for his recommendation including potential competition for DNDN's prostate cancer drug Provenge (should it ever make it to market) that will limit its sales potential, the price of the treatment (he throws out the "common estimate" of $75,000 for the three infusions) and his belief that Dendreon will have a difficult time attracting a corporate partner to sell the drug outside the U.S.
Part of Joe Pantginis' thesis on Dendreon is that a prostate cancer drug called GVAX from Cell Genesys would be better and cheaper than Provenge. But yesterday morning CEGE announced it's abandoning the late-stage clinical trial of that treatment because it had such a small chance of success.
But the lynchpin of his argument is the final Provenge test results that the company says are due out around the middle of next year. "If the...data does not replicate the earlier debatable 'survival' data, we would expect the stock to be down 60-70 percent (on the first trading day following the release of the results," Pantginis writes. But on the flip side he places 50-50 odds on the clinical trial being a success. "We believe a positive...outcome could significantly drive the stock forward. (But) we believe this singular event does not warrant owning the shares (except for very short-term oriented investors who want to bear the risk)."
MCF makes a market in DNDN.