Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Today's Biggest Stories in Biotech: Galectin Therapeutics Inc, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals and Nektar Therapeutics

By George Budwell – Feb 27, 2014 at 9:25AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Top stories in biotech and healthcare today.

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

Let's take a look at the top stories in biotech and health care this morning -- keep an eye out for Galectin Therapeutics (GALT -4.44%), Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (MACK 1.09%), and Nektar Therapuetics (NKTR -1.22%)

Galectin presents at NASH workshop
Shares of Galectin Therapeutics are creeping up in premarket this morning ahead of the company's presentation at the Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis, or NASH, workshop hosted by JMP Securities. Galectin's CEO Peter Traber is scheduled to serve on the panel's workshop from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EST, followed by individual meetings with various management teams working in the field. 

Could this workshop be a big catalyst today? I don't believe so. While investors are certainly looking for a credible reason to believe Galectin will follow in Intercept Pharmaceutical's footsteps, this workshop probably won't yield much insight into the company's ongoing clinical trial. 

Will Merrimack spill the beans today?
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals is also up in premarket morning, with investors hoping to hear more details about the company's ongoing late-stage trial for its experimental pancreatic cancer drug MM-398 after the bell. Specifically, Merrimack is scheduled to release earnings today with a conference call to be held after market close.

Previously, Merrimack delayed the drug's readout because patients were surviving longer than expected, giving investors hope that MM-398 is on track to report positive top line results. Since this announcement, however, management hasn't said much on the matter, instead choosing to focus investors' attention on their other early stage clinical candidates. With a readout expected this April or May, today's conference could provide some key insight into MM-398's development. As such, you might want to keep a close watch on Merrimack today.

Nektar misses on earnings, downgrades follow
Nektar Therapeutics is down over 8% in premarket this morning after missing on both estimated earnings per share and revenues yesterday. Specifically, Nektar missed consensus on earnings per share by $0.24, and on revenues by $18.16 million, fairly substantial misses. This morning MKM Partners downgraded Nektar to Neutral, although the firm's reason(s) weren't immediately disclosed. 

Is this a big deal? In my view, it's not. Nektar is still squarely in the realm of 'developmental biotech', with value being created primarily by the company's clinical pipeline. And this year could be a transformative one for the company in terms of its pipeline. Nektar and its partner AstraZeneca have already filed for regulatory approvals for naloxegol in the U.S., Europe and Canada. And naloxegol could be the first once-daily oral therapy to be approved for opioid-induced constipation.

Nektar also has an impressive array of ongoing late-stage clinical trials that may help to create value for shareholders over the long-term. In short, you may want to dig deeper into Nektar, especially if the stock pulls back substantially today. 

George Budwell owns shares of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals and Nektar Therapeutics. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Nektar Therapeutics Stock Quote
Nektar Therapeutics
$3.24 (-1.22%) $0.04
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Stock Quote
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals
$12.03 (1.09%) $0.13
Galectin Therapeutics Stock Quote
Galectin Therapeutics
$1.29 (-4.44%) $0.06

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 11/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.