At the end of each week,VFC's Stock House examines some news items, stocks and stories that made headlines during the previous trading week, but may also make headlines or influence trends during the upcoming week as well. With and emphasis on the biotech and healthcare sectors, VFC's Stock House also takes a glance at potential market-moving stocks in a broad spectrum of sectors, while also providing insight into the major news items of the week.
This week attention is going to be on the strength of the markets, with many pundits predicting a market correction is imminent while others believe that continuously-improving economic numbers will be enough to sustain the positive recent trends, although the DOW did just experience its worst week of the year.
The NASDAQ is still thirty percentage points from its all-time high, but the DOW is just seven percent off its highs, making many wonder whether there is more money to be made by betting on the short side of the argument than the long. That argument may hold water, given the fact that the global economy on a whole is nowhere near operating with the perceived strength that it was during the days when the markets were trading at their highs.
Europe is still a mess, with Greece constantly worrying economists, while Spain, Portugal and Italy are implementing reforms in an attempt to stave off the drastic measures that had to be implemented to save Greece from all-out collapse.
Even China, who many argue is the true economic powerhouse of today - whether they cheat at the game or not - is showing signs of weakness and civil unrest.
So that all brings us back to the US markets and our individual investments - what should investors prepare for?
It's not too hard to prepare for both. A little money on the sidelines could go a long way to being prepared for the dips, while holding onto the strategy of selling some trading shares into quick spikes - such as those experienced lately by Agenus (AGEN), Cel-Sci (CVM) and Galena (GALE), to name just a few - could also pay off well.
The year 2008 taught us to be prepared for anything at any time. With that in mind, trading strategies are going to be just as volatile as the markets.
In political news, President Obama's health care bill will be reviewed by the Supreme Court for its constitutional legality while Santorum, Gingrich and crew will continue to trudge along the campaign trail playing Etch-A-Sketch and reading their respective copies of 'The Little Engine That Could'; although math and circumstance tells us that these guys can't.
If the plan is not to win, but to divide the Republican party enough to create a broken convention later this year, then the only thing that will be more broken than the GOP come November is the New York Jets locker room.
Let's see what's up in the markets...
Amarin Corporation (AMRN): Amarin shares spiked to well over twelve dollars last week when the company released news that it had been awarded a key patent protecting the high triglycerides treatment AMR-101, but tapered off later in the week even as CNBC's Jim Cramer endorsed the stock on Thursday.
Investors knew something was up the previous week when shares quickly started moving from below the eight dollar mark, and the patent news was one of several speculative possibilities that investors were hoping to see played out.
AMR-101 is still before the FDA for approval and the general market take is that the product will be approved, based on the strength of the Phase III results, and therefore investors are also expecting that partnership news could also come at any time.
Since shares flew to nearly twenty dollars on such speculation last year, it's possible that Amarin is in consolidation mode at this time, with any potential dips providing an opportune times to pick up a few shares for those interested in playing the FDA decision day.
Immunocellular Therapeutics (IMUC.OB): Shares of Immunocellular stormed through the three dollar mark late last week after the company announced news that it had acquired the rights to a key technology from the University of Pittsburgh that will enable the company to develop a second major product candidate, ICT-140 for the treatment of ovarian cancer.
Immunocellular is already developing ICT-107 for the treatment of glioblastoma and early studies have thus far been very encouraging.
The technology behind IMUC's cancer immunotherapy pipeline of products is unique in that it trains a patient's immune system to attack cancer stem cells at the root in order to prevent the growth and spreading of cancer. There are also some logistical and manufacturing advantages contained in IMUC's pipeline that should lead to more attractive pricing options during commercialization and alleviate the troubles endured by Dendreon (DNDN) during the roll-out of Provenge.
Another catalyst to look for from Immunocellular is a potential move to a larger stock exchange, such as the AMEX.
FuelCell Energy (FCEL): FuelCell had enjoyed an early-year price run on the strength of some contracting deals and its potential as a big player in the future of greener energy, but a stock offering announced mid-last week sent shares quickly back to the $1.50 mark.
Although shares of FCEL were priced at 15% below where they were trading at the time of the deal, the fall backwards may have provided a nice buying opportunity for those that believe the company is moving in the right direction as a green energy provider.
In addition to the offering, the company also recently received a capital infusion to the tune of $30 million from Korea's Posco, with whom FCEL also has a contracting agreement. Fuel Cell also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Air Products (APD) to market tri-generation stationary fuel cell power plants, ensuring FuelCell a place in next-generation energy production.
Given the developing potential, this is going to be a company to watch for the months moving forward. The offering of $1.50 is still significantly higher than where they were trading as recently as late January.
In respect to potential up-and-comers in the green energy sector, Capstone Turbine (CPST) is also hanging out at the lower side of its trading range, another one to take a look at as a speculative green play.
Prolor Biotech (PBTH): Prolor Biotech rolled out some very significant news last week. The company has initiated a multi-country Phase II trial testing its lead product candidate, hGH-CTP in children. A previous Phase II had already been completed testing the technology in adults, and given that the data from the adult trial was used to convince European regulators to give the green light to test it in humans, it's a sign of confidence that the product is proving itself during the developmental stages.
Prolor owns world wide rights to the Carboxyl Terminal Peptide (CTP) based technology, aside from four fertility-related indications for which Merck (MRK) has successfully developed in Europe, can be attached to already-existing therapeutic proteins and slow the process by which the protein is removed from the human body. This process creates a significantly extended life span for an already-existing treatment and reduces the amount of injections a patient would need to endure by a huge margin.
In the case of hGH-CTP, one shot per week may be able to replace the current seven shots per week endured by patients during the course of treatment for hormone deficiency.
A financial report issued over the weekend also states that the company has enough cash on had to last through the fourth quarter of this year.
McDonald's (MCD): Sometimes factors other than sales numbers effect a company's share price, and right now McDonald's stock is dropping - not because sales are - but because there is concern that the incoming CEO will be up to the task as much as the outgoing one was.
Having traded for over a hundred bucks just a few weeks ago, shares have quickly slipped back to ninety five dollars, and could sink further - especially if a market correction materializes as many believe it will.
Although that slide doesn't seem like much for the more speculative investors that have become the core of the readership base of VFC's Stock House, I like this one for the IRA, given the fact that people are always going to eat and McDonald's has always been able to stay ahead of the curve, offering healthy alternatives to the burgers and fries and even stealing some coffee business from Starbucks (SBUX).
It's also healthy to have a couple of potential continuing growth stories that dish out dividends in the old Roth as well, in my opinion.
With all that said, the lower McDonald's slips, the better buy I think it is. There's still a significant amount of room for international growth for all of the major US food brands.
Street corners in many foreign countries around Europe and the Middle East are starting to look more American than America, with the Golden Arches and TGIFriday's signs plastered everywhere.
When you're "in" enough to set up shot next to such history as the Pantheon in Rome and get away with it, then you're a global powerhouse.
McDonald's fits that bill.
Ampio Pharmaceuticals (AMPE): Another one playing the quick rise and slip game is Ampio Pharmaceuticals. Like Prolor, Ampio announced positive trial news recently, although it was the completion of a clinical trial and positive results from that trial that had AMPE on the move early last week.
Ampio's pipeline is based on repositioning already-approved drugs to treat new indications and the company has announced positive developments regarding all three of its primary pipeline candidates over the past few months.
Last week's news was based on the progress of Optina, a potential treatment for Diabetic Macular Edema that is now going to be prepared for regulatory trials in the United States with eyes on an eventual US FDA approval.
Shares have receded after the recent spike to four on the trial news, but if developments for this company and its pipeline continue spitting out positive results, then shares should follow.
Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (KERX): Keryx shares touched highs of just under five bucks on Friday before settling for a four percent rise on the day. KERX has been a volatile play for a couple of months now based on the pending trial Perifisone trial results and some high-profile public debating by popular investing websites.
A push over the five dollar mark is possible this week, if Friday's action is an indicator, although expect the debates to continue.
Interestingly enough, TheStreet.com's biotech blog has hammered KERX from months, but that website issued a more positive toned article about the company titled, "5 Stocks Under $10 Poised To Move Higher."
So which way is TheStreet going to go?
That's why investors have to take everything they read with a grain of salt and devise their own investing strategies based on individual DD and decisions.
Human Genome Sciences (HGSI): Human Genome has done little of late to excite any reactions from investors. Some believe that the stock will head lower without any additional GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) buyout rumors, while others see a rebound in store.
Nothing on the news front has justified a move higher and it doesn't help that headlines under the stock symbol relate to some sharks looking for a class action lawsuit, but as history has shown - when HGSI does move, it moves quick.
Until Benlysta sales pick up - and most are still predicting that it will become an eventual blockbuster - then volatility is going to rule the day with this one.
Celsius Holdings (CELH.PK): Volume slowed late last week after a week-long volume spike and the announcement of a new PR firm renewed some investor interest in the long dormant Celsius stock. Generally, companies hire PR firms when expectations of growth are on the horizon. Sales of the calorie-burning Celsius drink, powdered packets and shots have stabilized enough to believe that the product has found a home in the functional beverage and pre-workout drink markets to consider that a foundation moving forward.
5WPR CEO, Ronn Torossian, noted last week via email that, "we are excited to implement a consumer focused campaign, to reach trendsetters, celebrities and heighten awareness of the Celsius brand."
Volume over the past week, until Friday, showed that investors may be interested again.
BioVest International (BVTI) and Accentia Biopharmaceuticals (ABPI) may both again be slipping below the radar after spiking earlier this year...Cel-Sci Corp (CVM) slipped on Friday after mid-week surge...Implant Sciences (IMSC) settled in at seventy cents to close the week...BioDelivery Sciences (BDSI) rose by four percent Friday, no news...Titan Pharmaceuticals (TTNP) very quiet lately, shares slipping...NovaBay (NBY) increased volume all week last week...CellDex Therapeutics (CLDX) flirting with five.
Disclosure: Long CVM, NBY, IMUC, CPST, MCD, AMPE, CELH, HGSI, BDSI, TTNP, IMSC.