An Ugly Biotech Chart

Amarin (Nasdaq: AMRN  ) has a shareholder impression problem. There's really no other explanation for a chart like this.

Amarin Corporation Stock Chart

Amarin Corporation Stock Chart by YCharts

So when the company released a letter to shareholders Tuesday morning, it seemed like a good idea. At the very least, it couldn't hurt.

Or not.

Shares slipped nearly 6% Tuesday and another 10% yesterday after the biotech announced plans to offer $150 million in senior notes.

That spike in April was because the company released positive phase 3 data showing that AMR101 reduced triglycerides in patients with mixed triglyceride levels. Maybe we can chock up the peak at the end of May to irrational exuberance. But there's little reason for Amarin to be trading below where it did before the phase 3 data in April.

Sure, there are some patent issues that might reduce the life of AMR101. The drug is a fish oil similar to GlaxoSmithKline's (NYSE: GSK  ) Lovaza, and while it's clearly superior to Lovaza, that doesn't really matter if generics come on the market in a few years. Patents on method of treatment, which can be harder to defend than patents on the molecule, might be required to ward off generics.

And the capital raises are a necessary evil of being a development-stage biotech still seven months away from a likely approval. In addition to launch costs, Amarin is running a cardiovascular outcomes trial to expand the potential patient population for AMR101.

But both of those looked like foreseeable issues to me in April, but even if they weren't, they don't seem to justify a 68% decline from Amarin's 52-week high.

The big problem -- one not addressed in the shareholder letter -- is that investors were expecting a quick sale of the company after the results in April. Investors are starting to worry that big pharma isn't interested. AMR101 won't compete with cholesterol drugs -- in fact, it can be used in combination with them -- so Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) , which sells Vytorin, and AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN  ) , which sells Crestor, would be good matches for AMR101. And Pfizer (NYSE: PFE  ) could redirect its experienced Lipitor sales to focus on AMR101 now that Lipitor is off patent.

I think management needs to come out and say that it isn't looking for a strategic alternative, put the expectations to bed, and move on from here. What do you think? Take our poll and let us know why you voted that way in the comment box below.

And while we're discussing the potential future outcomes of a small-cap biotech, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner has identified an even smaller health-care stock on the cusp of blockbuster growth and is offering to share it with you for free in our special report, "Discover the Next Rule-Breaking Multibagger." It's available for a limited time, so download this must-read special free report right now, and don't miss your opportunity for truly market-beating returns.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli holds no position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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