Markets have been pretty volatile over the last week or so, as a host of fundamental surprises out of the US, Europe and Asia have translated to some uncertain sentiment. The jury is out as to whether current action across wider equities markets is the beginnings of a longer term reversal of the more than half decade bull run, or merely a correction on Chinese weakness and the tightening of US monetary policy. As usual, biotech has had its fair share of movement. Here are two stocks, one up, one down, that are some of the biggest movers so far this week.
First up, Beigene Ltd (ADR) (NASDAQ:BGNE). There are many individual investors that are wary of dabbling in Chinese stocks, and not just because of the recent turmoil in Asia. More important to those reluctant is the spate of accounting and reporting inaccuracies that came to late in the early half of this decade. These inaccuracies tarnished the nation’s equities markets as a whole, regardless of whether the companies in question had any surfaced issues, and the tarnish remains today – to some extent, that is. There have been some huge growth out of Asia since 2010 – Baidu Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) springs to mind – and this has turned the more risk averse investors on to opportunities they might not otherwise have considered back in 2010.
The Chinese biotech sector has been (comparably) strong despite the overarching market weakness, and Beigene has presented itself as a potential development stage speculative play as a result. It’s got multiple billionaire backers, a robust pipeline, and a spate of recent trial approvals to get the ball rolling towards commercialization in China. Its lead candidate, BGB-3111, is a cell growth inhibitor targeting a range of lymphomas, and based on eraly stage clinical data, has a better safety and efficacy profile than Ibrutinib, which generated in excess of $250 million a quarter for Pharmacyclics, Inc. during 2015 and is now marketed by AbbVie Inc (NYSE:ABBV) as a result of the latter’s January buyout of the former.
It’s still early days, or course, and the risk is considerable. Not just because of the Chinese nature of the stock, but because trials to date have been small and – as such – likely not representative of the data we can expect to see at the end of the process. Having said this, Beigene is down 8% on last week’s close, primarily as a result of Chinese policymakers addressing global press on their positions on growth, expansion etc. Markets weren’t overly impressed with the nation’s prospects, and this weighed on all areas of its equities markets. If we see some decent data from the aforementioned 3111 trial, however, there’s no reason we won’t see a recovery. One to watch, but we’d like to see an expansion of the currently available clinical data before committing to a position. Additionally, it may be worth waiting to see the company’s first official quarterly reporting (it only IPOd in February) to get a real idea of its cash on hand in relation to its burn rate.
Next, Proteostasis Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:PTI). This one’s an interesting one. The company staged a busted IPO at the beginning of February, and has traded pretty flat since missing its expected price range by 30% at the low end and 40% at the high end. The missed pricing didn’t work out terribly, however, as the company sold more shares than it had expected, so gross and net proceeds came in on par with what it had forecast in its scheduled price range. The company is currently up more than 30% from yesterday morning’s session open, with the only justifiable logic behind the gains being a host of newly initiated analyst coverages. Three outperforms and a buy rating from four research firms sparked some upside interest, and the gains came as a result. For those not familiar with Proteostasis, it’s an early stage development biotech wit ha current focus on cystic fibrosis. It’s lead candidate, PTI-428, picked up IND application approval last year, and the company expects to report topline from a phase I some time during the middle of this year. Even with the recent gains, it’s still well below its target IPO price, and the upcoming topline may be the catalyst required to boost it to it’s preempted range.