What happened

Shares of metabolic drug specialist Viking Therapeutics (NASDAQ:VKTX) lost 16.1% of their value during October, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. What spooked investors last month?

The good news is that this marked decline wasn't the result of a material event. Rather, the biotech's shares simply moved lower in sympathy with the broader industry last month. The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, for instance, also dropped by double-digits in October due to the uncertainty stemming from President Trump's ongoing trade war with China. 

Chalkboard chart of a downward trending arrow.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Viking's inability to defy the industry's downward trend is somewhat of a surprise. The company released strong phase 2 data for its nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) drug candidate, VK2809, only a few weeks ago. The biotech also sports another high-value drug candidate, VK5211, that's close to entering a pivotal-stage trial as a treatment for complications associated with hip fracture recovery. In short, this hefty sell-off probably wasn't warranted based on the outstanding progress of Viking's clinical pipeline to date. 

Now what

Viking is set to release its third-quarter earnings report after the market closes today. During the accompanying conference call, the biotech should provide key updates for both VK2809 and VK5211. The current expectation for VK2809 is another midstage trial, where the drug will be evaluated on a NASH approvable endpoint. But the company could choose to roll the dice and advance VK2809 straight into a larger, albeit far more costly, pivotal trial. In regards to VK5211, Viking should provide some much-needed clarity on the drug's future after a fairly lengthy pause in its development.

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