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Looking Forward To ASCO, Reviewing Prior Conference Winners & Losers

May 22, 2021 12:17 PM ETCuris, Inc. (CRIS)ARGX, ARQL, FATE, KURA5 Comments
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  • ASCO/EHA midyear conferences are an exciting period for biotech investors (from unveiling of titles to initial abstracts to actual oral presentations).
  • Historically, I haven't done well at ASCO, as ESMO/ASH in back half of the year been our sweet spot of late. I'm hopeful that changes this year.
  • I reflect on a few prior oncology conference winners/losers for us and what I learned from them.
  • One key lesson is steering clear of situations where high expecations are already baked into a company's valuation (could be followed by ¨sell the news¨ reaction even if data is encouraging).
  • Another is to exercise more patience where we have high conviction- all too often I exit an investment/trade with a solid profit, but stock keeps running in following year as thesis continues to play out. Stay patient!

¨It's the most wonderful time of the year¨- no not the holidays, but in a way ASCO/EHA is like Christmas for biotech investors.

We get to see data for novel targets and mechanisms- more importantly, regardless of whether we hold an investment position or not, we celebrate promising clinical results that give new hope to cancer patients.

This morning I took some time to look over ROTY's prior winners and losers when it comes to cancer conference presentations - historically, I haven't done well at ASCO or simply it's been a non event for me. 

I'm hoping that will change this year with the current lineup of holdings in ROTY's model account that are presenting (including multiple oral presentations).

Recently, I wrote a public update on Curis (CRIS), with exciting presentation coming up at EHA (4948 could be used broadly in late line AML/MDS both as monotherapy in certain subsets and in combination with other approved agents, then move up to front line setting if all goes well).

Anyway, in the past, our cancer conference winners (and significant losers) have been more along the lines of ESMO and ASH (back half of the year).

Here are a few that come to mind:

Kura Oncology (KURA)- sell the news reaction was painful, a reminder to pay attention to weak price action and when high expectations are already priced in. 

Fate Therapeutics (FATE)- was a fun ASH runner, solid management and multiple green flags helped us hold high exposure and stay patient. We also ended up selling in January as valuation got ahead of itself and I could not identify the next ¨needle moving¨ catalyst.

Arqule (ARQL)-  ARQL did well at ASH and EHA, multiple derisked irons in the fire made it ideal (including rare disease program) so was not a pure binary. Initial tumor reduction in first C481S CLL patient in 7th cohort was the tip off that helped us get in early with high exposure. On the other hand, I failed to show more patience here and after we sold it doubled when Merck bought out 

Argenx (ARGX) was probably our first real conference winner together, ASH runner that I remember- after it doubled we sold half for the sake of prudence and kept the rest as pipeline kept progressing. Even with our triple, it went way higher after we sold it (another reminder on patience). Also, I doubt I would have been able to buy this one if I found it again because it needed more derisking to merit entry (that initial ASH catalyst was quite binary, even if it did work out for us) 

Again, very much looking forward to ASCO and EHA (potentially more than any prior year since ROTY's inception). There'll undoubtedly be both winners and disappointments, and we'll hash out lessons learned together. Onward and upward, and hope everyone's having a great weekend.



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Analyst's Disclosure: I am/we are long CRIS.

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