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BioPerspectives

Medarex Acquisition Ignites Broad Biotech Rally

  • Rod Raynovich

Bristol Myers announced today that they will buy Medarex (MEDX) for $16/share or $2.1B a 90% premium over yesterday's market price of $8.40.

Medarex is one of the leading biotech companies focused in human antibody development for use in a broad range of therapeutic areas such as cancer, autoimmune diseases and infectious diseases.The companies already have collaborations for three Phase II and Phase III drugs for metastatic melanoma ,lung cancer and prostate cancer. Bristol Myers (BMY) was an early player in the monoclonal Ab therapy area with its partner Imclone developing Erbitux which is now on the market. Bristol was outbid by Eli Lily (LLY) for Imclone at a price of $6.5B.Rumors regarding a Medarex buyout have been around for many months so now we see in biotech that rumors can pay off especially in the core biotechnology of antibody therapy.

On Monday, many skeptics were blindsided when Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) rocketed 277% after it reported that it met its late stage study goals for the experimental drug for Lupus, Benlysta; Glaxo (GSK) is partnered with HGSI on two late stage drugs.The stock has moved from $4 to $14.5 in five trading days.

And on July 15 Targacept (TRGT) announced that its mid-stage trial for a depression drug met its goal causing its stock to jump from $3.06 to $7.81 in one day. The drug candidate TC-5214 significantly improved symptoms of a major depression in patients who did not respond to Celexa. Targacept is trading about $8.90 today.

Celgene (CELG) fed the bullish sentiment with successful clinical trail results for Revlimid in treatment of Multiple Myeloma and strong sales and profit growth.The stock is up 17.5% today to $55.5.

The biotech sector has underperformed the tech sector YTD but since July 10 has been riding the coat-tails of the Nasdaq 100. With the support of all the good clinical news this month and now with the acquisition of MEDX the broad biotech sector is up over 4% today. My index of 33 mid-cap clinical stage biotechs is up 6.7% today with many stocks up 7-10%.

In the ETF world IBB is up 4.75%, XBI is up $7.8% and PBE is up 2.7%. The Rayno Life Science portfolio is up 2.75% today and 7% YTD.

The coincidence of strong NASDAQ performance with good biotech news has brought risk money from the sidelines. The bullish biotech investment script is intact. Stocks to watch are Cubist (CBST),Regeneron (REGN), Seattle Genetics (SGEN) and Viropharma (VPHM).