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Why Shares of GlaxoSmithKline Dropped 12.4% in February

By Anne Burdakin - Mar 9, 2020 at 5:25PM

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February was a wild month as coronavirus fears drove the pharma's stock price up and down.

What happened

Shares of Britain-based drug company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -0.55%) dropped 12.4% in February, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. Coronavirus fears were responsible for some of the drop, but not all. The company also reported quarterly earnings that didn't please investors.

So what

On Feb. 5, GlaxoSmithKline reported fourth-quarter 2019 earnings that fell short of analysts' expectations. Pricing pressure, mainly hitting its respiratory drugs, contributed to the shortfall. The company is now forecasting 2020 adjusted profit to be down as much as 4%.

Virus particles painted on a wall. A man is standing in front of the wall in a fighting pose.

Data source: Getty Images.

GlaxoSmithKline is in a period of transition as it has begun its planned split into two companies, having agreed to a consolidation of its over-the-counter products into a venture with Pfizer (PFE 2.92%).

CEO Emma Walmsley intends for vaccines and certain treatments, specifically for HIV, to play a larger role in GlaxoSmithKline's future. The company is ramping up research and development in HIV and oncology to tighten focus and continue building its pipeline of products.

In mid-February, GlaxoSmithKline's share price jumped up as news that Chinese biotech Clover Biopharmaceuticals, working on a coronavirus vaccine, would use the company's vaccine-boosting platform. That means GlaxoSmithKline will provide Clover with its proprietary adjuvants, compounds that enhance the effectiveness of vaccines.

When it became clear that GlaxoSmithKline is not, as of now, developing its own vaccine, shares dropped.

Now what

Coronavirus fears will continue to whipsaw the market for an unknown period of time, so all share prices will probably be unpredictable.

But GlaxoSmithKline's CEO is executing on a concrete, goal-driven plan to rejuvenate the business. The plan is proceeding nicely. Key to the company's future success are the results of ongoing research and development in vaccines and therapies in oncology and HIV. GlaxoSmithKline is a great choice for investors to keep on watch lists as the next few quarters will indicate a timeline for new products.

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