Why Idenix Pharmaceuticals, B&G Foods, and Petrobras Rose Today

Last week's memories of near-record closes for the Dow Jones Industrials faded further into the background Monday, as the Dow posted a decline of more than 1% amid growing concerns about the market's valuation. Even though more volatile sectors of the market have faced greater selling pressure, even large-cap giants took substantial hits today. But for Idenix Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IDIX  ) , B&G Foods (NYSE: BGS  ) , and Petroleo Brasileiro (NYSE: PBR  ) , Monday brought decent gains to shareholders, showing that in even the worst markets, you can sometimes find strong stocks.

Idenix Pharmaceuticals soared 12% after the biotech reported encouraging news this morning regarding its hepatitis-C treatment candidates. Specifically, Idenix Pharmaceuticals said that one of its candidates satisfied proof-of-concept expectations, leading the company to start a combination phase 2 clinical trial of the drug called IDX21437 and another treatment toward the middle of the year. In addition, Idenix said it plans to start a new phase 1 trial for IDX21439 as well. The concern for the long run is whether Idenix treatments will make it through mid-stage and late-stage clinical trials while still remaining as promising as they appear now. With today's gains, though, shareholders seem hopeful that Idenix Pharmaceuticals has the capacity to deliver on its pipeline of possible blockbusters.

Source: Wikimedia Commons.

B&G Foods climbed 6% as the Brazilian food company earned an upgrade from an analyst firm to outperform, with a favorable price target that implies about 8% more upside to the stock from current levels. The analyst also boosted its earnings estimates on B&G Foods, citing the company's acquisition of Specialty Brands of America as the catalyst for growth. Even though one credit-rating firm saw the Specialty Brands buyout as being negative for B&G Foods and its general credit safety, it didn't choose either to downgrade B&G's bond rating or issue a negative rating outlook.

Returning to Brazil, Petrobras gained 7% after the oil giant announced that one of its deepwater wells started operating late last week, with expectations of 26,000 barrels of oil daily. The well is just the latest play on Brazil's offshore pre-salt layer, with huge implications for the energy needs of the Western Hemisphere. With Petrobras saying its monthly production from pre-salt operations hit a new record, investors want to believe that the Brazilian oil giant will make good on what seems to be a huge find. Yet extensive debt and an uncertain status with respect to the Brazilian government, which owns the majority of Petrobras shares, could keep holding Petrobras back in the long run.

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