The 3-D bioprinting technology that is being developed by companies such as Organovo Holdings (NASDAQ:ONVO) could end up bringing revolutionary new possibilities to health care in the future. It is a topic that has gotten many investors extremely excited. But for the near term, the company is still developing very small 3-D liver assays, which it hopes to have ready late next year. By 2020, the company may end up developing other cell based assays as well as tumors for research use.
Enthusiasm for the stock has hit frenzy levels. Shares of Organovo nearly doubled in the space of just two weeks. Last week, the company's market cap reached over $1 billion, even before it has an actual product! During this time, news has been light. The company did announce quarterly results with $23,000 in research revenue. It also provided its business update that recapped past developments during the quarter.
Organovo hopes to launch its first commercial product, a bioprinted 3-D liver assay, in December 2014. However, so far the company has given no guidance on expected sales.
In the absence of any guidance, the market has let its imagination run wild. It has envisioned billions of dollars in revenue from big pharma that will rush to use this new assay.
In fact, there are already thousands of well-performing diagnostics on the market for a variety of purposes. There is a multibillion-dollar market for these products, but most of them sell for just a few hundred dollars.
Organovo will hopefully succeed in developing this product, and it is expected to perform better than 2-D versions. But even if it were the top pharma diagnostic ever, there would be no precedent for any level of sales for the current product which would justify the current billion dollar market cap.
The big money for Organovo will not be made in assays. It will hopefully be made many years down the road with more complex products.
Management seems to fully realize this. As the market has driven the share price to higher and higher levels, management at Organovo has been quick to hit the sell button on their shares. This could be an indication that the market has gotten a bit too excited about the potential sales of this product.
In the past six weeks, CEO Keith Murphy has sold 200,000 shares of his stock. CTO Sharon Presnell recently sold 150,000 shares. Chief Strategy Officer Eric David has sold more than 100,000 shares as well. All told, these three Organovo execs have recently cashed out of around $4 million of their stock, much of it just last week.
Prior to this very recent wave of selling, management had not sold and shares at all going back to 2012, so it appears that the recent insider sales have been motivated by the recent share price jump more than anything.
Also of note is the recent equity registration statement. The previous registration statement was for 6 million shares. But Organovo then issued a new registration statement to increase that to 11 million shares. The simple fact that the company is increasing an already large registration statement by such a large amount may indicate that it could be looking to issue a very large amount of stock in the near term. Given the recent surge in the share price and the tremendous valuation of over $1 billion, issuing as much stock as possible would make sense from the company's point of view.
Organovo is a stock that can get investors excited. The ultimate possibilities seem endless for everything from replacement hearts to synthetic meat. But such developments are years (or even decades) away. Lately, investors have driven the stock to a level that makes very little sense given what Organovo currently has in development.
Over the long term, Organovo may end up doing some very exciting things in the world of 3D bioprinting. The futuristic nature of its business will ensure that it continues to grab headlines for many years to come.
But following this tremendous surge in its share price, without any real developments to support it, investors might want to consider management's cue and take this opportunity to consider selling shares of Organovo at the highest prices in its history.
Fool contributor Mark Duvall has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.