There’s not much of the week left now, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for volatility in the biotech space before things draw to a close and we head into the weekend. A number of companies have put out mid week releases that are likely to dominate sentiment in the stocks in question across the next couple of sessions, and a few of these are really moving on the back of their respective releases.
Here’s a look at two of the biggest movers, what’s driving the action, and what we’re looking at as indicative of sentiment near term
The two companies in question are CytRx Corporation (NASDAQ:CYTR) and Sunshine Heart Inc (NASDAQ:SSH).
So, let’s kick things off with CytRx Corporation.
This one is a development asset driven move, but it’s pretty convoluted in nature. For those new to the company, CytRx is a development stage biotech that’s trying to bring a spectrum of oncology therapies to market, but isn’t having too much luck. The lead of these assets (and the one on which a large portion of the company’s market valuation rests) is called Aldoxorubicin. It’s a cancer drug, and specifically, CytRx has developed it as a potential therapy for the treatment of patients with soft tissue sarcomas (STS). All went well through early to mid stage development, but then when the drug hit phase III, and specifically when data from the phase III hit press, things started to derail. The data showed that the drug didn’t serve up any improvement in progression free survival (PFS) over SOC/placebo, and many wrote off the company at that point.
This was back in July last year.
After an analysis of the data (and a secondary release in November 2016), however, CytRx identified a sub section of the patient population in which the asset did seem to demonstrate an improvement in PFS, and it’s in this subsection (specifically, patients with leiomyosarcoma and liposarcoma, both of which are types of STS) that the latest news is rooted.
Management believes that a submission to the FDA that seeks approval for the drug in treating this subgroup of patients has a good chance of approval, and the latest release details that the company expects to submit said registration application at some point during the final quarter of this year.
At last count, CytRx was up close to 20% on the back of the news. This is clearly good news, and that’s why the company is gaining strength on the back of its release, but exactly how good it is – we’re not sure. The approval is touch and go, so we’re going to have to hold off on a longer term bias on this one until we see some feedback from the agency in the US.
One to watch, but for us, it’s a watch not a play right now.
Ok then, let’s move on to Sunshine.
This one’s far more straightforward. Sunshine is a tiny biotech that’s focused on the commercialization of what’s called the Aquadex FlexFlow system. This system indicated as a temporary ultrafiltration treatment of patients with fluid overload who have failed diuretic therapy, and extended ultrafiltration treatment of patients with fluid overload who have failed diuretic therapy and require hospitalization.
Financials hit press recently, and Sunshine took a hit on the back of the news. Right now, the company is trading at just short of $1 a share, and this most recent decline is down to the announcing of an offering that will see the company raise around $8 million in an underwritten public offering. The problem with this, and the reason markets are selling off on the company on the back of the news, is the dilution associated with the raise. Dilution is a necessary evil in the early stage biotech space, but this is a company that split early year to raise above a dollar, and has now declined back below threshold to current levels. A near term raise is just going to exacerbate shareholder frustration with capital structure, and the decline we’ve seen over the last couple of days (more than 30% of market capitalization lost) is a direct representation of this frustration.
Going forward, we expect this one to hold or decline, and management needs to put the capital raised to good use if it’s going to help alleviate sentiment driven pressure.