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Why Ebola Vaccine Makers' Stocks Soared

By Sean Williams - Oct 1, 2014 at 1:00PM

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Experimental ebola vaccine makers' stocks skyrocketed following the first confirmed case of Ebola on U.S. soil. Find out what investors should really be doing following this news.

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 Ebola vaccine developers, such as Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (ABUS -2.74%) and NewLink Genetics (NLNK), soared by as much as 25% and 12%, respectively, following the first confirmed Ebola diagnosis yesterday afternoon from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a person in Dallas.

So what: Today's trading action comes on the heels of more than 3,000 confirmed deaths from the Ebola virus in several West African countries, well more than half of which have been in Liberia. In a press statement yesterday, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, conveyed his confidence that there would be no Ebola outbreak within the United States and reminded concerned citizens that this disease isn't airborne, and is instead spread by close contact with infected individuals through blood, bodily fluids, or objects like needles which have been contaminated with the virus. At the moment, at least according to news agency reports, no additional family members or friends that came in contact with the Dallas victim have demonstrated symptoms of developing Ebola.

Now what: If you've ever wondered what emotional trading looks like, you've found it! Not a single Ebola vaccine drugmaker is anywhere close to bringing a drug to market, yet all are soaring as if the potential patient pool just skyrocketed.

Although Tekmira Pharmaceuticals just over a week ago worked out the clinical and regulatory framework to allow its experimental TKM-Ebola treatment to be given to infected and suspected-to-be-infected patients, this study is merely in the ramping up of phase 1 studies. Similarly, Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT 4.73%) noted earlier this morning that it has about 100 doses worth of its Ebola vaccine, yet its experimental drug is also in early stage development. NewLink Genetics announced the start of Ebola vaccine trials less than four weeks ago. Finally, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX 5.80%), also up as much as 6% today, hasn't even gotten its Ebola vaccine development off the ground yet!

I'd strongly suggest that until you see later-stage signs of efficacy against the Ebola virus from these drug developers it's not a wise idea to chase them higher solely on the day-to-day Ebola news.

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Stocks Mentioned

NewLink Genetics Corporation Stock Quote
NewLink Genetics Corporation
Arbutus Biopharma Corporation Stock Quote
Arbutus Biopharma Corporation
$2.84 (-2.74%) $0.08
Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc. Stock Quote
Sarepta Therapeutics, Inc.
$75.22 (4.73%) $3.40
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Stock Quote
BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
$10.76 (5.80%) $0.59

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

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