Morning Movers in Biotech: Gilead Sciences, NewLink Genetics Corp. and Novartis AG

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.

Let's take a look at the top stories in biotech and health care this morning -- keep an eye out for Gilead Sciences  (NASDAQ: GILD  ) , NewLink Genetics Corp.  (NASDAQ: NLNK  )  and Novartis AG  (NYSE: NVS  ) .

Gilead bouncing back?
Speculation about a potential biotech bubble hit fever pitch yesterday as one of the sector's top names, Gilead Sciences, fell for seemingly no reason. Moreover, Gilead's fall appears to have precipitated the fall of a number of other biotechs, in particular Celgene -- which traded in lock step with Gilead for most of the day. After market close, however, the reason for Gilead's fall became apparent: 39,000 bottles of the company's HIV treatment, Atripla, were recalled because of the presence of red silicone rubber particulates. Because this recall is likely to be only a minor setback for a behemoth like Gilead, I think the stock may have a better day today. And premarket trading appears to agree with my sentiment, as Gilead shares are currently up about 1% at the time of writing this article.  

NewLink Genetics continues its wild week
NewLink Genetics are down by almost 10% in premarket this morning after announcing that an independent review committee recommended the continuation of the company's late stage trial for algenpantucel-L, an experimental treatment for surgically resected pancreatic cancer. Presently, I don't see any other news--good or bad--to explain this drop. As such, I suspect this fall is a hangover from Monday's downgrade by research firm R.W. Baird that caused a 13% drop. Another possibility is that the market is correcting for the stock's blistering 71% rise so far this year. Put another way, this might be a sell the news type scenario, which makes sense since the stock is selling off in the face of what I view as a positive development. 

Novartis moving up on blood cancer drug trial
Shares of Novartis are green in premarket this morning following a positive late-stage trial for its experimental drug Jakavi indicated as a treatment for a rare form of blood cancer called polycythemia vera. Jakavi is currently approved as a treatment for another rare blood cancer known as myelofibrosis, where it saw sales of $163 million last year. If Jakavi receives approval as a treatment for polycythemia vera, analysts expect the drug to reach blockbuster status within a few years' time, with each indication generating peak sales in excess of $500 million. Jakavi's commercial prospects look particularly bright given that Sanofi's competing drug, fedratinib, had its development cut short recently due to safety concerns. All told, Jakavi is yet another reason for investors to take a good long look at Novartis. 

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