Sequenom's Speculative Shares Lift Off on Tuesday

by: M. E. Garza

Once again, the market found itself in a tug of war as investors tried to find some good news-- and for some BioMed investors the day became a matter of finding out what the good news was to begin with. That's the story as we check in as markets close on Tuesday.

Shares of Sequenom, Inc. (NASDAQ:SQNM) started to rise mid-morning and they didn't stopped. The question is, why? A mid-day glance at our exploding e-mail box told us that traders were scratching their heads, since no hard news items could be credited with the rise of the badly beaten Sequenom shares. There were no filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and calls to Sequenom were not immediately returned.

The last favorable news was a report issued by Lazard Capital Markets at the end of May. The stock jumped a bit after Sean Lavin upgraded it to "hold" from "sell."

A year ago, the San Diego based company had proudly announced that their SEQureDx test was extremely effective in detecting Down syndrome. Sequenom investors embraced the news since the company would not need FDA approval to market the product. Shares rose to $29.14.

Then the bad news hit.

In late April, Sequenom disclosed that certain unidentified employees had mishandled data used to support the test's accuracy. The news called into question whether the test was valid at all. Behind the scenes, company officials have been reexamining data and investors have been left to wonder if the technology/science was really that deeply flawed to begin with.

Immediately after, angry investors filed at least 11 separate lawsuits on behalf of all persons who purchased or otherwise acquired shares of Sequenom, Inc. between June 4, 2008 and April 29, 2009. The complaint alleged that on April 29, 2009, after the market closed, Sequenom said the expected launch of its Down syndrome test would be delayed and that consequently, in after-market trading, Sequenom stock lost more than two-thirds of its trading value, falling from $14.91 to $4.69. Other suits against Sequenom's officers and directors alleged other violations of Federal Securities Laws.

According to some, the company was expecting to produce a data-validated test some time later this year, but obviously something moved shares yesterday. One rumor is that the lawsuits may be dismissed, others think the investigation into the mishandled data has been completed and the findings are very good news for SQNM.

"The essential components of the test, in my mind, are still valid," Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Pamela Bassett told MarketWatch recently.

Bassett said that she had forecast a stock price target of $42 for Sequenom share's, with a buy rating. She has since lowered her rating to hold, with a target of $4. The company had a great deal riding on that Down test. Analysts have estimated the test's market opportunity could be as high as $2 billion. Investors and traders are hoping there will be more news by the time the market opens tomorrow.

After hours, as of the time of this article, SQNM shares were up +1.95 (58.21%) and climbing to $5.30.

"You dont get a run like this without a leak of news to institutional investors," said one poster on an investment message board.

Either way, there is no official word from the company. So at least for now, the strength of the volume and trading is unofficially attributed to chatter that SQNM may be close to resolving issues of mishandled data for SEQureDx Trisomy 21 Test. Sequenom is a high risk/high reward trade that continues to make investors feel like they're driving blind. If that's your kind of ride, then jump on.

Shares of Orthovita, Inc. (NASDAQ:VITA-OLD) climbed steadily to $5.24 +0.58 (12.45%). The company announced Monday that announced that it received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to market CORTOSS Bone Augmentation Material for treatment of vertebral compression fractures. CORTOSS is an injectable, bioactive composite that mimics the physiological properties of human cortical bone and is the first alternative to polymethylmethacrlyate (PMMA) cement that has been evaluated in a large-scale, multi-center, randomized, controlled clinical study and cleared in the United States for the treatment of vertebral compression fractures.

ISTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ISTA) closed the +0.35 (up 11.71%) at $3.34 and has been on the move since the company announced some positive results from a proof-of-concept Phase 2 clinical study in subjects with dry eye disease (keratoconjuctivitis sicca) using a new, proprietary, low-dose formulation of bromfenac, the active ingredient in Xibrom(R) (bromfenac ophthalmic solution) 0.09%. The study achieved statistical significance in the primary endpoint of the objective sign of conjunctival staining (Lissamine Green test) as compared to baseline. The study also achieved statistical significance on the objective sign of corneal staining (Fluorescein test) as compared to baseline. Patients also achieved statistically significant improvements in subjective symptoms measured by the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) and improvement in patients' most bothersome ocular symptoms.

Losing ground in early Trading on Tuesday were Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ANPI), who is giving back some of its shares from yesterday along with Sinovac Biotech Ltd. (NASDAQ:SVA), who also moved in yesterday's markets after announcing that it begins the production of a vaccine against influenza A (H1N1) virus.

Don't forget to check out our latest list of Extreme FDA Trades at to see what's gonna move markets next. Meanwhile, here are the rest of the day's winners and losers in health care.

Tuesday June 09, 2009

Gainers (% price change) Last Trade Change Mkt Cap
Sequenom, Inc. SQNM 5.30 +1.95 (58.21%) 324.01M
Orthovita, Inc. VITA-OLD 5.24 +0.58 (12.45%) 398.69M
ISTA Pharmaceuticals, Inc ISTA 3.34 +0.35 (11.71%) 110.93M
Elron Electronic OTCPK:ELRN 3.57 +0.27 (8.18%) 105.85M
Caraco Pharmaceutical CPD 4.74 +0.29 (6.52%) 169.82M

Losers (% price change)
Angiotech Pharmaceuticals ANPI 2.06 -0.31 (-13.08%) 175.35M
Sinovac Biotech Ltd. SVA 2.97 -0.32 (-9.73%) 126.00M
DepoMed, Inc. DEPO 2.57 -0.20 (-7.22%) 131.62M
Hemispherx BioPharma, Inc HEB 2.84 -0.21 (-6.89%) 241.76M
MedCath Corporation MDTH 10.95 -0.73 (-6.25%) 215.00M

Most Actives (dollar volume)
Johnson & Johnson JNJ 55.70 +0.07 (0.13%) 153.49B
Pfizer Inc. PFE 14.13 -0.18 (-1.26%) 95.35B
Wyeth WYE 43.90 -0.04 (-0.09%) 58.54B
Bristol Myers Squibb Co. BMY 19.45 -0.31 (-1.57%) 38.53B
Schering-Plough Corp. SGP 23.57 +0.03 (0.13%) 38.38B

Disclosure: No Positions.