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Why Peregrine Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Shares Tumbled

By Sean Williams – Mar 7, 2014 at 12:52PM

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Peregrine shares sour after reporting its third-quarter results before the opening bell. But here's what investors should really be watching instead.

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.

What: Shares of Peregrine Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PPHM), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing monoclonal antibodies to treat cancer, dipped as much as 11% after reporting its third-quarter earnings results.

So what: For the quarter, Peregrine reported total revenue of $3.89 million, a 44% decline from the year-ago period. Peregrine currently generates all of its revenue from its biomanufacturing subsidiary, Avid Bioservices, which experienced lumpiness in the timing of service orders this quarter. Net loss for the quarter widened to $9.72 million, or $0.06 per share, from $4.91 million, or $0.04 per share in the year-ago period. By comparison, Wall Street had expected $5.1 million in revenue and a $0.06-per-share loss, meaning Peregrine missed on the top line and met estimates with its loss.

Now what: Today's move seems less oriented with Peregrine's earnings report, since earnings reports are often non-events for primarily clinical-stage biotechs, and more of a retracement of its huge surge on Wednesday after announcing that it'd be presenting in two upcoming Keystone Symposia conferences

Instead of focusing on earnings, what investors should really have their eyes on is the phase 3 trial for bavituximab, its second-line non-small cell lung cancer immunotherapy treatment. The mechanism of action is quite unique, and it delivered a better-than-doubling of median overall survival in phase 2 studies. However, those same phase 2 studies were marred by foul-ups at a third-party contractor. Its phase 3 SUNRISE trial will therefore go a long way to validating the effectiveness of bavituximab. If successful, Peregrine could have plenty of upside, but the odds are heavily stacked against small-cap biotech stocks developing cancer drugs.

Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

The Motley Fool has no position in any companies mentioned in this article. We Fools don't 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.

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