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January 19, 2015

Top 10 Wall Street Losers of 2014

These ten companies had prolonged and disastrous slumps.

Top 10 Wall Street Losers of 2014

Bad news (from a federal investigation to clinical trial failures) usually preceded the share price plummet. [© Argus - Fotolia.com]

  • 2014 may have been a year of record highs for biopharma stocks, but not every publicly traded company benefited. And those that lost value in 2014 generally lost as much value as the 10 companies that made up 2013’s GEN List of Top 10 Wall Street Losers of 2013. In other words, this year’s Top 10 Wall Street Losers also dropped in value by at least more than half.

    And unlike last year, the biggest loser among biopharma stocks lost more than 90% of its value year-over-year. More interestingly, last year’s biggest loser (Ariad Pharmaceuticals) may have lost 83% of its value in 2013, but this year bounced back along with its main product Iclusig, as the leukemia treatment returned to U.S. shelves with a new FDA-approved label in January, then inked a pair of overseas commercialization deals in December.

    Even more interestingly, two of the Top 10 “losers” of 2013 (Amicus Therapeutics and Pernix Therapeutics) ended up on this year’s list of Top 10 Wall Street Winners.

    Following is a list of the top 10 worst stock performers of 2014—the 10 biotech, pharma, tools/tech, and services company stocks whose prices fell the most during the past year. Companies are listed by name; their stock exchange and trading symbol, the closing price on December 19, 2014, and December 19, 2013; the percentage of change between the closing prices; and a brief explanation for the companies’ share slump this past year.

    Most of the companies that lost on Wall Street during 2014 are up-and-coming companies, small- to mid-capitalization (“small cap” to “mid cap”) stocks. Their share prices typically plunged in value as a result of some sort of bad news, from the failure of clinical trials or entire clinical programs, to layoffs and restructurings, ratings downgrades by analysts, sudden exits for top management—and in one instance a federal investigation, despite the legal presumption of innocence. Not included on this list are companies that went public during 2014, as a result generating less than a year’s share-price data.

  • #10. KaloBios Pharmaceuticals

    NASDAQ: KBIO

    December 19, 2014: $1.70

    December 19, 2013: $3.97

    % Change: (57.2%)

    The company’s stock lowlight came early in the year—January 30, to be exact, when the share price fell 28% to $3.33. The drop came a day after the company disclosed it was halting development of its anti-GM-CSF monoclonal antibody KB003 for severe asthma after the drug candidate failed in a Phase II study to meet its primary clinical endpoint of improvement in FEV1 compared to placebo. The share price continued to slump during 2014. On the up side, the company completed enrollment in a 180 patient Phase 2 KB001-A study targeting Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, and said in November it planned to present top-line data on that study in January 2015.

  • #9. Galena Biopharma

    NASDAQ: GALE

    December 19, 2014: $1.57

    December 19, 2013: $4.06

    % Change: (61.3%)

    From a high of $7.48 a share on January 16, the stock price has gone mostly downhill since then. On March 17, the company disclosed in a Form 8-K it was the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission concerning “certain matters relating to our company and an outside investor-relations firm that we retained in 2013.” Shares fell 12% to $2.82 the following day. Earlier in 2014, TheStreet.com disclosed that the company hired an investor-relations firm to post essays presented online as objective analyses without disclosing that they were company-paid. The essays helped boost share prices, and company insiders made millions of dollars by selling their shares in January, the website reported. An internal investigation ensured, and on August 21, Mark J. Ahn, Ph.D., who initially denied any company wrongdoing, resigned as president, CEO, and director “to pursue other long held personal and professional goals.”

  • #8. Vivus

    NASDAQ: VVUS

    December 19, 2014: $3.32

    December 19, 2013: $9.27

    % Change: (64.2%)

    While sales for obesity drug Qsymia improved somewhat during 2014, they continued to fall short of once-lofty investor expectations. On April 3, Piper Jaffray analyst Charles Duncan downgraded the firm’s rating of the stock from Neutral to Underweight, and lowered the firm’s price target from $8 per share to $3 per share. Shares closed 6% lower that day, to $5.80, and have continued to slide slowly but mostly steadily since then. Vivus is among several developers of recently-approved obesity drugs that have seen demand fall short of predictions just a couple of years back. 

  • #7. Aegerion Pharmaceuticals

    NASDAQ: AEGR

    December 19, 2014: $22.81

    December 19, 2013: $64.33

    % Change: (64.5%)

    From a high of $73.56 on January 3, shares have fallen mostly steadily through 2014, as the company has been buffeted by several negative developments. Shares dipped 7% in February following a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter 2013 loss. Those shares continued to decline, sliding again almost 22% to $34.63 on May 7, after the company lowered its projected sales forecast range to between $180 million and $200 million, from between $190 million and $210 million. And on October 30, shares fell 41% to $20.19 after the company again lowered its product sales forecast range to $150 million-to-$160 million.

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