What happened

Shares of AVEO Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:AVEO), a small-cap biopharma focused on cancer, fell 18.6% in October, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. There doesn't appear to be any company-specific news that can justify the big downward movement. However, AVEO's shareholders have had to deal with a lot of volatility in the recent past, so October's double-digit plunge isn't exactly unprecedented.

So what

Here's a quick review of the news out of AVEO last month:

  • On Oct. 5, management announced that its pre-planned futility analysis related to its TIVO-3 trial was completed. This trial is designed to compare AVEO's drug Fotivda to Bayer's Nexavar in treating patients with refractory advanced renal-cell carcinoma. An independent statistician determined that the study should proceed as planned, which is good news. 
  • On Oct. 6, the company stated that results from its phase 1 TiNivo study would be presented at an international cancer symposium.

Since neither of these announcements can help explain the big sell-off, AVEO's investors should probably chalk up October's fall to normal small-cap biotech volatility.

Man lying flat in front of a chart that points downward

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

Fotivda was only recently approved for sale in Europe, so investors still don't know whether healthcare providers will use the drug. However, data from the TIVO-3 trial should be available in early 2018. If the trials show that Fotivda offers some clinical advantages over Nexavar, then it would certainly go a long way toward persuading providers to give the drug a try.  

Will the TIVO-3 trial swing in AVEO's favor? Only time will tell. In the meantime, AVEO will probably remain a heavily shorted stock that will rise or fall based on traders' emotions. Bulls and bears alike should continue to brace themselves for volatility. 

Brian Feroldi has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.