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It's hard to believe, but the first month of 2013 has already flown by. We ended January the same way we started it: with plenty of health-care stocks crashing. Here are three of the most horrendous health-care stocks for this week.
Can't stand the HEAT
Celsion (NASDAQ: CLSN ) wins the dubious honor of worst health-care stock over the last five days. Shares collapsed more than 80% after the company announced that ThermoDox, an encapsulated form of cancer drug doxorubicin activated by heat generated by radiofrequency ablation, failed to meet objectives in a phase 3 trial referred to as the HEAT study.
Unfortunately, the situation is even worse than it sounds. Celsion CEO Michael Tardugno stated in a conference call following the announcement that the results "were not even close." Not only did ThermoDox not meet the primary study endpoint, it didn't even perform as well as the control arm in improving progression-free survival rates for liver cancer patients.
What happens from here? Celsion says that it has enough cash to fund operations into 2014. The company plans to further evaluate data from the study to determine if there could be other opportunities for ThermoDox. At this point, however, the prognosis looks bleak.
Shares for Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HALO ) fell 22% this week. For Halozyme, the drop wasn't caused by negative results from a clinical study. Instead, a downgrade by Wedbush analyst Gregory Wade rocked the stock, and other analysts jumped into the fray. Jefferies reiterated an underperform rating for the stock, although BMO Capital maintained its outperform rating despite lowering its price target.
These actions stemmed from comments made by Roche, which has worked with Halozyme on developing an injectable version of its breast cancer and gastric cancer drug Herceptin. Roche raised the prospect of a delay in European review of the injectable product and downplayed the importance of the drug in its long-range plans.
If Halozyme shareholders are looking for a silver lining in the clouds, they can take comfort in the fact that Roche's comments applied only to Herceptin SubQ and not to MabThera SubQ. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE ) also is moving forward with testing via Halozyme's drug delivery platform, so there are still some positives to be found.
Herbalife (NYSE: HLF ) made our horrendous list on Dec. 21 and then our list of best performers the following week and the week after that. Now, it's back yet again on the not-so-good list. The stock fell nearly 18% this week.
The surreal televised duel of words between hedge fund manager Bill Ackman and billionaire investor Carl Icahn on Jan. 25 had nothing to do with the latest Herbalife drop-off. Instead, shareholders can thank the Federal Trade Commission. On Monday, the FTC posted a statement on its website that a press release was scheduled later that day about action on an "alleged pyramid scheme." It turned out to have nothing to do with Herbalife, but the market was already spooked.
This has quickly become the most bizarre story in the investing world in quite a while. The way things are going, I don't think anyone would be surprised if HBO announced a pay-per-view grudge match between "the Herbalife longs" and the "pyramid scheme shorts."
A better idea
You can certainly make huge gains at times with volatile health-care stocks such as Celsion, Halozyme, and Herbalife. However, you can just as easily lose a lot. This week proves that point.
A better idea to choose great companies and stick with them for the long term. In our free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich," we name stocks that could help you build long-term wealth and retire well, along with some winning wealth-building strategies that every investor should be aware of. Click here now to keep reading.