Shares in late-stage biopharmaceutical company Rexahn Pharmaceuticals (RNN) experienced a wildly volatile day in Monday in action clearly connected to a presentation by CEO Peter Suzdak, PhD, on the state of the company at the 16th Annual BIO CEO & Investor Conference in New York City.
RNN Experiences Big Swings, Up and Down
Shares jumped early in the day, reaching $1.30 in the morning for a 10 percent gain before retreating to about $1.25 a share. The driving factor in this bullish trading appeared to be speculation over a solid presentation at the conference.
However, the moment Dr. Suzdak began his presentation, Rexahn experienced a sudden and rapid sell-off on very heavy volume. In a matter of minutes, Rexahn’s 6.25 percent gain had swung to a 5 percent loss with shares trading hands for as little as $1.08 apiece before bouncing back to finishe the day at $1.12.
Dr. Sudzak’s presentation largely held positive news, but, even if it hadn’t, the fact that shares began crashing the moment he began to speak would seem to indicate that the change was not connected to anything covered at the conference.
Motivations for RNN’s Big Shifts Remain Unclear
What motivated this particular crash remains unclear. Speculation that traders had driven up prices prior to the conference only to sell off shares once the presentation began holds some water, but the heavy trading volume would seem to indicate that this isn’t the case.
By the end of Monday, Rexahn had moved 24.37 million shares, well above its average daily volume of 15.39 million, and volume spiked heavily during the rapid sell off at 2:30 pm EST. Normally, this level of volume would mean day traders wouldn’t be able to cause so strong a swing in share price, but with a market cap just over $185 billion, Rexahn may not be immune to such speculative pressures.
Lack of Suponoxin Data Could be Culprit
However, potentially more relevant was the fact that Rexahn’s presentation didn’t include any phase I results for Suponoxin (RX-5902). Rexhan’s website describes the drug as follows:
“Supinoxin is a first-in-class inhibitor of p68 RNA helicase. Phosphorylated-p68 RNA helicase plays a critical role in transcription/translation and helicase activity. Over-expression of phosphorylated-p68 has been observed in solid tumors, such as colon, breast, head and neck squamous cell carcinomas, prostate cancers, ovarian and multiple myeloma. However, phosphorylated-p68 is not present in healthy (non-cancerous) tissue. Phosphorylated-p68 RNA helicase plays an important role in tumor progressions, metastasis and/or prognosis.”
The Phase I trial for Supinoxin was one of three initiated by Rexahn in 2013, beginning in August, and the results of said trial are expected to be reported in Q1 of 2014. It seems possible that there was heavy speculative buying on the potential for the Supinoxin results being included in the presentation that shifted to a steep sell-off as soon as the presentation’s slides were released and it became clear that the data in question wouldn’t be included at the conference.
RNN Has Tripled over Last 90 Days, Promising Pipeline of Cancer Treatments
Rexahn, which specializes in cancer treatments, continues a volatile 2014 that has seen shares gain almost 150 percent on the initiation of two different significant clinical trials in January, a phase II clinical trial for solid-tumor treatment RX-3117 on the 8th and a phase IIa clinical proof-of-concept trial studying the safety and efficacy of Rexahn’s lead drug Archexin RX-0201.
Shares of Rexahn have more than tripled in value over the last three months, experiencing a massive spike from January 9th to 13th that saw shares peak at $1.85 apiece before beating a retreat to around $1.10.
Regardless of why shares experienced so much volatility on Wednesday, Rexahn's tiny market cap likely makes it more likely the company will experience major shifts in value on speculative buying and selling until it starts to produce real revenues. Without any drugs on the market, Rexahn remains a specualtive buy, but one that has received positive reviews from analysts.
However, only time will tell if the company is headed to new highs and greater stability, and without clinical results it's impossible to know for sure what the future holds for Rexahn.
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