The Motley Fool's readers have spoken, and I have heeded their cries. After months of pointing out CEO gaffes and faux pas, I've decided to make it a weekly tradition to also point out corporate leaders who are putting the interests of shareholders and the public first, and are generally deserving of praise from investors. For reference, here's my previous selection.
This week, we'll step back from looking at incredible corporate perks and instead focus on a CEO that's delivered on his promise of big gains for shareholders with the CEO of ACADIA Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACAD ) , Uli Hacksell.
Kudos to you, Dr. Hacksell
It's no small feat making it among the incredible CEO list for a company that's yet to even bring a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to market, yet Dr. Hacksell and ACADIA are literally brimming with surprises.
The company's lead drug candidate is pimavanserin, an experimental late-stage drug designed to treat Parkinson's disease psychosis. In trials, of which the results were released at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting, pimavanserin met its primary endpoint of demonstrating highly significant antipsychotic efficacy and delivered twice as much global clinical impression improvement as the control arm. The experimental drug also met its secondary endpoint of improving motoric tolerability. In fact, the clinical results were so impressive that despite ACADIA wanting to run a confirmatory phase 3 trial, it was allowed to file an accelerated new drug application with the FDA instead.
As you might imagine, the buzz surrounding pimavanserin is that no PD psychosis targeted therapy currently exists. The current standard of care involves controlling PD psychosis primarily through AstraZeneca's (NYSE: AZN ) bipolar and schizophrenia medication Seroquel and Novartis' (NYSE: NVS ) schizophrenia drug Clozaril. The problem with these medications is that they're merely Band-Aids for PD psychosis and aren't necessarily even proven to improve the symptoms associated with the disease. In fact, Novartis' Clozaril can potentially lead to a rare white blood cell condition known as agranulocytosis, making it a requirement that anyone on the medication get weekly blood tests for the first six months while taking the medication. Pimavanserin could change that if approved and be the first PD psychosis-targeted therapy. Not only that, but it would appear to be a lock to gain nearly all of the market share associated with PD psychosis with no other targeted therapies anywhere near marketing approval.
However, there's more to ACADIA than just pimavanserin as a treatment for PD psychosis. Pimavanserin is also currently being tested in mid-stage trials as a treatment for schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease psychosis. ACADIA also has a partnership with Allergan (NYSE: AGN ) to develop therapies in the fields of ophthalmology and chronic pain. The end result has been the development of experimental compound adrenergic for chronic pain which is currently in mid-stage trials, and muscarinic as a treatment for glaucoma which is in early stage trials. ACADIA's three collaborations with Allergan extend through this year and it seems unlikely that to me why the two companies wouldn't wind up extending them further.
A step above his peers
Not to bust out the Star Trek lingo, but by bravely going where few biopharmaceutical companies have gone so far, and in trusting in the research, ACADIA looks poised to transform the PD psychosis treatment landscape.
Of course it hasn't always been this simple. In 2009 ACADIA's then lead drug candidate for PD psychosis, pimavanserin, failed to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement relative to the placebo and both it and its PD partner at the time, Biovail (which later merged with Valeant Pharmaceuticals), were sent back to the drawing board. Just months later Biovail and ACADIA would back out of their PD partnership, but ACADIA pressed on, producing the positive clinical results we see today. And how have shareholders been rewarded you wonder? How about with a whopping 1,036% gain over the trailing 12-month period! Looking back even further, since ACADIA shares bottomed on Nov. 12, 2010 at $0.66, the share price has jumped an incredible 3,500%, or an average gain of 11.12% per month -- not too shabby!
ACADIA employees don't get left out in the cold, either. The company makes shares of its stock available to its employees at a discount (something they have to be enjoying over the past year), offers a partially matching 401(k) contribution, and offers standard health, dental, and vision plans to full-time employees. In addition, the average ACADIA employee can expect to receive 15 paid days of vacation each year as well as 11 paid holidays, including the workweek between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. Adding up the 52 weekends, that's 130 days off (be it for weekends, vacation, or holiday pay) each year!
Two thumbs up
One final way of summing up Uli Hacksell's outperformance at ACADIA over the past year is this: Of the 6,610 stocks in Finviz's database, only 3 have outperformed ACADIA in terms of share price appreciation over the trailing 12 month period. That's pretty darn good! Sure, shareholders aren't getting a dividend, and profits could still be a way off with ACADIA still needing to go through the motions with pimavanserin, but few CEOs have delivered for shareholders as Dr. Hacksell has done over the past year. With a prime focus on his employees and in bringing revolutionary new treatments to market, I can easily divvy out two thumbs up to Dr. Hacksell.
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