Investors often look forward to strong performance for the stock market toward the end of the year. This December, though, sustained gains have been hard to come by, and uncertainty about the economic prospects for 2023 is weighing on sentiment. Despite a string of recent declines on past days, stock index futures were mixed Tuesday morning, with futures on the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 1.10%) easing lower by about a quarter percent as of 8 a.m. ET.

There were a few stocks that tried to buck the downtrend and move higher. Lucid Group (LCID 2.21%) got a modest boost following good news in its efforts to raise capital, with shares trying to bounce back from lows not seen since its 2020 initial public offering. However, a stock that's not quite as much on most investors' radar screens got an even bigger boost, as attention turned to biopharmaceutical company Verona Pharma (VRNA 0.33%) and its most recent study results for a key candidate treatment. Read on for more on both companies.

Lucid gets the money it wants

Shares of Lucid Group were higher by about 5% in premarket trading on Tuesday morning. The electric vehicle (EV) company revealed that it has completed a program designed to raise capital for its auto business in an effort to strengthen its balance sheet and give it more liquidity to make investments in business expansion and for other general corporate purposes.

Lucid sold more than 56.2 million shares of common stock as part of its "at-the-market" equity offering program. Gross proceeds amounted to $600 million, implying an average stock price in the neighborhood of $10.65 to $10.70 per share. When you combine that with $915 million more in capital raised from a private placement of 85.7 million shares to Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund at roughly the same price, Lucid will now have more than $1.5 billion in additional cash.

Lucid has seen huge ups and downs in its time as a publicly traded company. The EV stock soared in 2021, riding higher on general excitement about the electric vehicle space and the prospects for new entrants like Lucid to challenge established industry leaders. Yet in 2022, harsher realities have set in, and investors have grown more impatient for young companies to build up their businesses and prove their ability to thrive in an increasingly competitive market.

Tuesday's modest rise does little to recover lost ground from earlier in the year, as Lucid stock has still lost more than 80% of its value since the start of 2022. Longer-term, Lucid will have to ramp up production and see continued appetite for its EVs in order to turn its stock price around.

Verona gets a COPD win

Investors were far more excited about shares of Verona Pharma. The stock jumped 35% in premarket trading after the biopharmaceutical company released positive results from a key late-stage clinical trial.

Verona's phase 3 Enhance-1 trial evaluated its nebulized ensifentrine treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, following up on previous studies. Ensifentrine met the trial's primary endpoint by demonstrating significant improvements in lung function as measured by forced expiratory volume, with consistent improvement across various subgroups of patients based on gender, age, smoking status, and disease severity. The study also met key secondary endpoints, with improved scores on scales measuring broader lung function as well as overall quality of life for COPD patients. Ensifentrine also saw reduced instances of exacerbation of patients' disease conditions.

As a result of the favorable results, Verona intends to file a new drug application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the first half of 2023. Investors are hopeful that the treatment will gain FDA approval expeditiously.

The move in Verona's stock pushed shares to their best levels since 2018. If the company keeps moving forward with its COPD efforts, then the stock could see even further gains in 2023 and beyond.