Shares of Dynavax Technologies ( DVAX -3.65% ), a biopharmaceutical company struggling to launch a next-generation hepatitis B vaccine, reached a new low today. Despite investment-bank analyst upgrades earlier this month, the stock fell 8.5% on Monday.
After its attempt to become an oncology drug developer didn't work out, Dynavax recently fell back to plan A. That plan involves circling wagons around Heplisav-B, a two-shot vaccine that works as well as the old vaccine -- which requires three shots spread over a longer time frame.
Cantor Fitzgerald recently raised some eyebrows by calling the stock a potential five-bagger, citing the need for increased compliance with hepatitis B vaccination -- too many people don't come back for a third dose. After taking a weekend to consider the chances that Dynavax will be able to reach profitability before running out of money again, investors were far less enthusiastic.
After losing $39.7 million during the first three months of the year, Dynavax finished March with $183 million in cash and securities. If a slimmed-down staff focused on selling Heplisav-B can boost sales of the vaccine from an annualized $23 million to around $100 million in a year or two, Dynavax could start making ends meet.
At recent prices, Dynavax sports a $218 million market cap. That means the stock would skyrocket if the Heplisav-B vaccine approaches its potential. Given the company's track record, though, it probably isn't worth the risk.