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January 13, 2014

Top 10 Wall Street Losers of 2013

Which biotech and biopharma firms tanked last year?

Top 10 Wall Street Losers of 2013

Find out which companies saw red in 2013. [© Argus - Fotolia.com]

  • Following is a list of the top 10 worst stock performers of 2013—the 10 biotech, pharma, tools/tech, and services (CROs) 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 13, 2013, and December 13, 2012; the percentage of change between the closing prices; and a brief explanation for the companies’ misfortune, combined in some cases with better news.

    Most of the companies that lost on Wall Street during 2013 are, like the past year’s winners, up-and-coming companies, small- to mid-capitalization (“small cap” to “mid cap”) stocks that plunged in value as a result of some sort of bad news—often the failure of a mid- to pivotal-stage clinical trial, but including unfortunate resulting events such as terminations of clinical development programs, layoffs, consolidations and restructurings, sudden exits for top management, and sometimes the issuing of subpoenas, no matter the legal presumption of innocence. Unlike last week’s mostly unknown Wall Street winners, many of the 10 companies on this list were companies that repeatedly made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    Not listed are companies that appeared to show even larger price losses, but only as a result of reverse stock splits or dividends, since the adjusted closing prices resulting from the splits showed much smaller year-to-year losses for investors.

  • #10. BG Medicine


    December 13, 2013: $1.10

    December 13, 2012: $2.89

    % Change: -61.9%

    2013 highlights: The company in September hailed positive clinical results in a European Journal of Heart Failure study linking elevated levels of Galectin-3 to adverse outcomes in chronic heart failure patients—and thus a need for its diagnostic. A month later, rival Critical Diagnostics published a study in JACC (Journal of the American College of Cardiology) in October concluding its soluble protein ST2 biomarker showed superiority to BG’s Galectin-3 in predicting all-cause death and cardiovascular mortality in a study of 876 heart failure patients over five years. From 92 cents on September 30, the share price fell by nearly half in October to a low 55 cents on October 15. But on December 10, shares nearly doubled from 58 cents to $1.08 after the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services nearly doubled the reimbursement rate for Galectin-3 as of 2014, to $30.01 from $17.80.

  • #9. XTL Biopharmaceuticals


    December 13, 2013: $2.81

    December 13, 2012: $7.50

    % Change: -62.5%

    2013 highlights: In a Form 6-K filing with the SEC dated May 30, the company said it “expects to incur additional losses in 2013 arising from research and development activities, evaluating additional technologies, and operating activities, which will be reflected in negative cash flows from operating activities.” To complete its clinical trials and see product development through to approval, XTL “will be forced to raise additional funds in the future by issuing securities.” The company began trading its American Depository Receipts (ADRs), each representing 20 ordinary shares, in July on NASDAQ, where company American Depository Shares have traded on its Capital Market; in addition to shares traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

    XTL is focused on late-stage clinical development of drugs for the treatment of multiple myeloma, schizophrenia, and hepatitis C; lead drug candidate rHuEPO, a recombinant erythropoietin for multiple myeloma blood cancer, won FDA’s orphan drug designation in 2011. The biggest stock price dip saw shares slide about 18% from $5.35 to $4.40 on November 7, the day the company disclosed the resignation of former CEO David Grossman from its board of directors; he stepped down October 15 as CEO, a position he held from 2009. The executive shuffle continued December 30 ($2.94 at close), as David Kestenbaum was named CFO, succeeding CFO and Deputy CEO Ronen Twito, who told the company he was leaving the company “to pursue other opportunities.”

  • #8. Amicus Therapeutics


    December 13, 2013: $2.05

    December 13, 2012: $5.48

    % Change: -62.59%

    2013 highlights: The year started well for Amicus, as share prices rose 49% between January 3 and January 10 (from $2.84 to $4.22), on positive Phase II trial results for AT2220 in Pompe disease revealed January 4. But by June shares plummeted 20%, from $3.19 to $2.64, after the company said FDA insisted on waiting for additional Phase III data for Amigal (migalastat HCl) before advancing an NDA for the Fabry disease candidate it was co-developing with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). In November, Amicus bought back full rights to develop the compound as a monotherapy and with an enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) for Fabry. Amicus paid nothing upfront but gave up possible future milestone payments and royalties to GSK, which took a $3 million stake in Amicus.

    Amicus also said it will cut its workforce 14%, to 91 staffers, by shutting down its San Diego research lab and consolidating at its Cranbury, NJ, headquarters. On a brighter note, Amicus launched a partnership with Biogen Idec to discover small molecules that fight Parkinson’s disease by targeting the lysosomal enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase). It was one of many actions by which Amicus repositioned itself into a developer of ERTs, as was its acquisition of ERT developer Callidus Biopharma for up to $130 million.

  • #7. GTx


    December 13, 2013: $1.50

    December 13, 2012: $4.24

    % Change: -64.62%

    2013 highlights: Senior executives cut their pay while 53 employees were laid off in October, less than two months after the company acknowledged the failure of a pair of Phase III studies, causing share prices to plunge nearly 66% on August 19, to $1.43 from $4.15 the previous trading day. GTx said its POWER1 and POWER2 trials for enobosarm in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) receiving chemotherapy failed to meet its co-primary endpoints of lean body mass and physical function. It was a disappointing outcome for a drug candidate that earlier this year won FDA’s Fast Track designation. And while investors were mostly unconvinced, the company said enobosarm had value in fighting cancer-induced muscle waste, citing “significant” quantitative advantage in lean body mass compared with placebo in both trials. The price bounced back slightly before falling another 12% (to $1.65) following the pay cuts and layoffs.

  • #6. Vical


    December 13, 2013: $1.05

    December 13, 2012: $2.98

    % Change: -64.8%

    2013 highlights: The company announced plans to lay off 47 staffers (39% of its workforce) and refocus on its infectious disease vaccine programs in August, 10 days after disclosing it was scrapping development of its lead pipeline drug, the cancer immunotherapy Allovectin (velimogene aliplasmid), following a failed Phase III clinical trial. The failure sent Vical’s stock price falling by more than half (57%), to $1.53 at the close on August 12, from $3.58 the previous trading day. In a trial of 390 patients with metastatic melanoma, Allovectin failed its primary endpoint of showing statistically significant improvement vs. first-line chemotherapy for objective response rate at 24 weeks or more after randomization. The drug candidate also failed its secondary endpoint of overall survival.

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