Is Clovis Oncology Riding a Biotech Bull?

Michael Teague  |

Shares for Clovis Oncology (CLVS) are currently in their second straight day of over 10 percent gains. Last Friday, the company’s stock gained 15.6 percent to close at $21.81, and Monday saw shares selling for just shy of $26, a gain of almost 12 percent.

The performance comes as the company released its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings statement on Thursday, which indicated net losses in Q4 2012 increased to $21.1 million, or $0.81 per share, compared to $14.9 million, or $1.30 per share, for the same period of 2011,

The financial results were not overwhelmingly great, the company did express clearly that it has cash to spend on research and development. Last year saw the company forced to pull the plug on its C0-101 treatment for metastatic pancreatic cancer, after test results showed that the drug did nothing to prolong the life of patients.

In the wake of this disappointment, however, the company emphasized that it is well underway with Phase I/II trials for two new and highly anticipated drugs- C0-1686 currently being tested for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer, and rucaparib, being tested as a treatment for different forms of ovarian and breast cancer.  Additionally, it is in the exploratory phase of a third treatment for gastrointestinal cancer.

But the gains of the last two days are also taking place in the context of several solid performances from drug companies. Orexigen Therapeutics' (OREX) 4.7 percent leap today to $6.33 per share (coming after last week’s 15 percent gains) is largely the result of Contrave, the obesity drug the company is currently working on, and the wider range of distribution opportunities it enjoys over competitors. VIVUS's (VVUS) qsymia treatment, for instance, has not performed as well as expected, perhaps because the company has only been able to sell the drug through the mail-order process, while Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) launch of Belviq has been delayed for further regulatory procedures.

Meanwhile, Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OPTR) gained almost 11 percent throughout the week, closing Friday at $12.26 after opening last Monday at $11.02.  This comes after the announcement of the resignation of CEO Pedro Lichtinger, along with a planned strategic review which could be interpreted as a sign that the company is looking to sell many or all of its shares.  The company’s shares were up 2.85 percent on Monday, trading for $12.61.

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