Why Nektar Therapeutics Shares Tumbled

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Nektar Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR  )  -- a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing therapies based on its polymer conjugate technology platforms -- hit the deck, down as much as 27% after reporting disappointing preliminary top-line mid-stage results for NKTR-181.

So what: According to Nektar's press release, NKTR-181, which is designed to treat chronic pain associated with osteoarthritis of the knee, reduced pain by an average of 40% over the 213 of 295 patients that took the drug. A mere 3% saw no pain improvement while 18% dropped out due to adverse events. Although these results appear impressive, the placebo, which was expected to demonstrate a rise in patient pain levels, actually wound up reducing pain in patients as well. Therefore, without a statistically significant difference between the pain-reducing effect of NKTR-181 and the placebo, NKTR-181 failed to meet its primary endpoint. On the heels of this news Brean Capital chopped its price target on Nektar to $14 from $17 while Lazard Capital informed the Street that it felt today's weakness could represent a buying opportunity.

Now what: Even though this isn't how Nektar shareholders want to head into the weekend, today's disappointing news really isn't that bad, all things considered. Nektar has an incredibly diverse lineup of FDA-approved and pipeline products in various stages of development. It has multiple partnerships and collaborations and can monetize its royalty rights if it ever needs to in order to raise cash. It also has its own proprietary technology development platform, which is helping to develop its first crop of completely in-house therapies. In sum, this doesn't look like the time to run away from Nektar kicking and screaming. Instead, I would use today's sell-off as a reason to give this company a much more thorough review.

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