With a new trading quarter upon us, the broad markets as a whole look ready to take a downswing after a strong first quarter and months of running higher as the global economy demonstrated a strength and resiliency not seen for years. Although a downswing - or "correction", as some might term it - could be in the works, there are some companies and stocks out there with enough pending news, catalysts and developments that may allow them to weather the storm and outperform the near-term market trends.
Immunocellular Therapeutics (IMUC) is one that has already well-outperformed the market this year and could maintain strength into any general downswing.
Over the course of the past six months Immunocellular has emerged from one of a quite few speculative Phase II cancer immunotherapy companies to become a potential front-runner in the next generation of such treatments.
Fueled by encouraging survival data from early trials and positive developments on the business front, IMUC has soared past the two dollar mark with ease and even breached the three dollar barrier for a period, a level that the share price still flirts with on a near-daily basis, even as the market as a whole is on a breather.
The recent pipeline success and business-related developments have attracted some institutional interest, as noted earlier this year, and preparations to have the company listed on a major exchange, such as the AMEX, may now be in the works.
Immunocellular's lead product candidate, ICT-107, is far enough along in Phase II trials that the investing community is beginning to speculate on the release of interim results, which could be another reason why IMUC shares have run higher through the opening months of the year.
According to a PR from the company released a couple of months ago, full enrollment for the trial is expected to reached within the current quarter and an interim analysis will be conducted "when 50% of events (32 deaths) have been observed."
The prospects of that analysis should keep investors interested as other factors take shape, such as the boosting of an already-solid pipeline concept of attacking cancer cells at the stem, thereby killing them and preventing their growth and spreading through the human body. Earlier in the month, an announcement hit the wires that Immunocellular has established a second manufacturing site for ICT-107 with a "transfer of technology" having been completed. Critically, this event allows the company to increase production of the compound, which will become even more of a critical factor should ICT-107 make it to Phase III.
Last month, Immunocellular announced a licensing deal with the University of Pittsburgh in which the company acquired world-wide exclusive rights to certain intellectual properties that will be used to expand the IMUC pipeline into the treatment of ovarian and pancreatic cancers.
The new pipeline product will be labeled ICT-140 and the company plans a quick transition into the clinical stage with an Investigative New Drug (IND) application planned to be filed with the FDA during the fourth quarter of this year.
Immunocellular also retains the right to utilize the licensed technology against brain cancer.
It is also common for companies in the cancer immunotherapy sector to receive a boost around ASCO time. This year the event will be held from June 1-5 in Chicago and many high-flyers and emerging stars in the field of cancer treatment will be on display. Already in the spotlight this year for its stock performance and solid business developments, any additional positive exposure from the ASCO meeting would only strengthen Immunocellular's emerging leadership position in the field.
General sentiment may believe that a broad market reversal is in store, but there is enough reason to believe - based on pending and completed developments - that Immunocellular may be immune to a broad pullback.
Disclosure: Long IMUC.