4 Biotechs That Just Got Mauled By Bears

by: Bio Insights

Recently, we've been seeing quite a few "stock price-implosions" in the biotech sector that have attracted unusual levels of outside attention. With increased attention comes a natural increase in speculative activity, which implies more trading activity. For who wants to partake in the fun, I cherry-picked four of the stocks that saw especially bearish activity yesterday (October 9th, 2012).

First is Neuralstem (CUR), which extended its recent declines (these started in early Friday trading) with a 7% drop by the closing bell bringing total losses from this retreat to about 14%. This decline is happening during the 2012 American Neurological Association meeting in Boston, which is now over (the schedule was October 7-9). Neuralstem's Eva Feldman gave updates on the interim data for clinical trials testing for NSI-556 in the treatment of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) on the 9th.

The Phase I studies don't say much about the efficacy of the drug, but they do imply that the stem cell-based therapy is well tolerated. The news is quite neutral (or even slightly positive, depending on your faith in the company). Either way, the selling in CUR can be explained by a "sell the news" type reaction. If the stock continues its declines, CUR bulls who are in for the long haul will probably eventually see it as a signal to accumulate more shares.

The extremely troubled Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (PPHM) continues to slide in each trading session on a constant bombardment of investor lawsuits and probes that have been milking the company's faulty Phase II data for the drug Bavituximab, to test the drug as a second-line treatment of non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). This is a huge deal for the company because bavituximab is the company's flagship product, and holds most of the value of the company's pipeline. There is speculation that this may inhibit the drug's ability to even progress to Phase III trials without a new Phase II study, which delays the drug's progress by years.

Athersys (ATHX), another stem cell name that is focused on regenerative medicine, filed for a share offering that recently sent the stock tumbling away from its normal $1.50/share. Counteracting this, the company reported some progress on its stem cell line Multistem. On October 2nd, we saw completed enrollment for the Phase II study in Ischemic Stroke. On October 5th, we saw the company reference preclinical studies that demonstrated potential efficacy in Multistem for MS (multiple sclerosis) patients. The same day, we saw a raised price target by Maxim Group, to $6.00/share. Despite all of this, bears are winning. Shares dropped another 6% on October 9th.

I last covered Celsion (CLSN) on October 1st, and noted that its ThermoDox platform was very exciting for difficult varieties of cancer. I also pointed towards upcoming Phase III results for ThermoDox for the treatment of HCC (Hepatocelluar Carcinoma), which is the most prominent form of liver cancer. I neglected to mention the high short interest in the stock, which was 14% of float. Bears swiped the stock down 9.5% in yesterday's trading on strong volume, expecting CLSN to return last week's rally. At this point, the stock has indeed given back the gains, so there's no meat left on the bone. We're back to square one.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.