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Stalking the monster
To find tomorrow's winners, we've enlisted the help of more than 180,000 monster trackers at Motley Fool CAPS. We've compiled a list of the most successful CAPS members whose picks have doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled in price. Then we've plucked out some of their recent picks for stocks they find equally promising.
Score is by how many percentage points that pick is beating the S&P 500.
Of course, this is not a list of stocks to buy -- or, for those monster stocks that our CAPS All-Stars have already found, sell. Just consider them starting points for your own further research of extreme buying opportunities.
Focusing on the future
Now that Arena Pharmaceuticals has made the improbable journey to FDA approval for its fat-fighting drug Belviq (lorcaserin), let's look at exactly what that means for the biotech, and for VIVUS (Nasdaq: VVUS ) and Orexigen Therapeutics, both of which are also seeking regulatory approval for weight-loss therapies.
One-third of the U.S. population obese and another third is overweight, contributing $168 billion in medical costs. While there is risk in taking Belviq -- that's the reason the FDA rejected it the first time around in 2010 -- it needed to be weighed against the health risks associated with obesity, and the scales tipped in favor of the drug. Arena was able to overcome resistance after showing it didn't cause heart valve problems, which was what doomed the notorious last fat-loss wonder drug, Fen-Phen. With post-marketing studies on the bill, regulators will keep a close eye on Belviq.
My concern with Arena's growth prospects is on the limitations that have been set. It's targeted only to those with a body mass index greater than 30 (and a few other special cases), so couch potatoes won't be able to reach for this instead of opting for a healthy diet and exercise, and those who were studied lost only 3% to 5% of their total body weight after a year. Hey, for the obese, that could be just what they need to start, but it doesn't magically melt the pounds away, which may be what patients hope for or expect.
Investors may end up being disappointed if sales don't take off as fast as they anticipate, which is what happened to Human Genome Sciences (Nasdaq: HGSI ) after its lupus treatment Benlysta became the first drug approved for the illness in more than 50 years. I see gains for Arena, but perhaps not the stratospheric leaps forward that its most ardent adherents calculate.
With its stock up 400% so far this year, much of the gains to be realized may have already been baked into the price. So I'm rating Arena to underperform the market, but with an eye toward changing that after much of the euphoria of approval wears off. Add Arena to your Watchlist, and then let me know in the comments section below or on the Arena Pharmaceuticals CAPS page whether you think differently about its chances.
Disconnecting from common sense
As much as I see Arena having a profitable future (though perhaps not so profitable as the bulls think), I can't say the same for smartphone maker Nokia, which has essentially gone all-in on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 for its survival. If the bet doesn't pay off big, it will probably go the way Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) is heading with the BlackBerry and the delayed BB10 operating system, which is to say nowhere.
Between the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, Nokia has been left behind. They stumbled badly several years ago with failures to introduce models that were popular with consumers and coasted by resting on their laurels of being the world's biggest handset maker. Too late did it start trying to innovate, and now the smartphone market has passed it by. Like RIM, it is trying to make up for lost time by announcing a willingness to sell part of itself to the highest bidder: RIM wants to spin off the BlackBerry division, and Nokia wants to sell some of its patents.
Yes, it could generate some cash, but when a company is reduced to finding salvation in selling the soul of its business, it doesn't really have a future left. Even those who see the potential for Nokia to increase its share value, like CAPS member huddaman, they aren't betting on any real long term success:
Business is on a decline and will likely burn cash. I hope they don't burn too much and pull the plug before that. Their liquidation value appears to be more than the current market cap. Either they should liquidate or get lean. I believe they are trying to do the latter for now.
Add the one-time smartphone icon to your Watchlist to keep track of its death throes, and then let me know in the comments box below or on the Nokia CAPS page the value you'd place on its stock today.
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