Every week we answer the pressing question on the minds of millions: "Which health-care stocks were the biggest winners over the past five days?" All right, maybe it's not the most pressing question for millions, but plenty of investors will want to know about three humongous health-care stocks for the market week ending Jan. 11.
Waiting and watching
Shares of Isis Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:IONS) leaped 22% higher this week. Part of the rise probably stems from eager anticipation of the FDA's decision on approval for Kynamro, Isis' familial hypercholesterolemia drug developed with Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY). That decision is slated for Jan. 29.
The other likely cause of the stock's rapid rise is the company's presentation at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Isis had a great message about its strong pipeline. The company expects midstage and late-stage results on nine different drugs in 2013. Isis thinks that five of those could be approved within the next five years, starting with Kynamro. The market watched the presentation and liked what it saw.
Of course, the cautious would caution (that's what they do, after all) not to count your familial hypercholesterolemia eggs before they hatch. The FDA advisory committee voted only 9-6 in favor of recommending Kynamro. Some members had concerns about the drug's safety profile, and even if it's approved, Kynamro could be limited to a fairly small market because of those concerns.
Firing on all cylinders
If there's one biotech firing on all cylinders these days, it's Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG). Shares jumped 17% this week after the company announced good news on practically every front.
Where do we start? The company said earnings for 2012 would be on the high end of previous guidance and perhaps even slightly beat the range given earlier. Celgene projected impressive sales growth over the next five years. On top of all this good news, the company revealed that apremilast met all primary and secondary endpoints in three phase 3 trials for treating psoriasis.
I can understand why the market is so excited. With great potential for Abraxane, apremilast, and Pomalyst plus continued strength from Revlimid, Celgene appears to be in great shape. The company recently even made my pick for the best biotech for 2013. We'll find out in less than 11 months if I'm right.
Rolling the dice
Dynavax (NASDAQ:DVAX) shares rose more than 16% this week. If you're looking for news stories that explain the increase, you probably won't find them. This one seems to boil down to (yet again) the J.P. Morgan conference.
Dynavax shares were hit hard in November, after the FDA's advisory committee recommended against approval for the company's Heplisav hepatitis B vaccine because of safety concerns. At the conference, Dynavax CEO Dino Dena said the company was working closely with the FDA to resolve issues the committee raised. Dena indicated that those talks were going well, but he couldn't predict what would happen.
My hunch is that the stock run-up came from investors who are willing to roll the dice on approval of Heplisav and were emboldened by Dena's comments. While it's a risky bet, the payoff could be huge if that scenario plays out.
It doesn't happen often, but sometimes the momentum that lands a stock on our top list in one week carries over to the next week enough for a repeat performance. I'm not sure if any of these three will do so, but Isis might have the best shot. It wouldn't surprise me if the anticipation for the FDA decision on Kynamro reaches a fever pitch. Check back next week to see what happens.