Energy stocks dominated the news Wednesday, as the price of crude oil bounced off their recent lows and raised hopes that the long slide for the industry could finally be coming to an end. Dozens of energy companies posted solid advances today, and their influence helped lift major-market benchmarks by more than 1% on Wednesday. Yet there were still some pockets of bad news in the market that sent some individual stocks lower, and Northwest Biotherapeutics (NWBO -1.23%), Accuray (ARAY 1.64%), and U.S. Steel (X -1.47%) were among the poorer performers for the trading session.
Northwest Biotherapeutics fell 19% after the company announced that it had made a direct secondary offering at a price much lower than where the stock closed on Tuesday. The company said that it had entered into agreements with what it called "healthcare focused institutional investors" for a direct offering of 3.5 million shares of stock, pricing the deal at $3.60 per share, which was almost exactly where the stock closed after its loss today. At the same time, investors will also receive one warrant for every two shares purchased that would give them the right to buy an additional share for $4.50 within the five years following an initial six-month waiting period. The developmental-stage immunotherapy company is working hard on a late-stage brain-cancer vaccine, but it was starting to run out of cash, making it necessary for Northwest to take less than ideal terms to raise capital. Nevertheless, if its DCVax-L vaccine is successful, it could mean a huge step forward in brain-cancer treatment and bring long-term profits to Northwest.
Accuray fell 6% after the maker of the CyberKnife robotic surgery and therapy system got a neutral rating yesterday from a stock analyst in its initial coverage of the company. Accuray makes devices that assist medical professionals in treating cancer, with their ability to target tumors precisely and deliver radiation treatments where they're needed most while avoiding as much collateral damage in healthy tissue as possible. The company has worked hard to publicize both its CyberKnife and TomoTherapy systems to professionals, attending industry conferences and presenting data on their efficacy and safety. The stock has been a disappointment, as Accuray has struggled in its efforts to become profitable. However, many remain optimistic that Accuray will be able to start making money in the next couple of years, especially if its devices start to gain more traction in the medical community.
Finally, U.S. Steel fell 5%. The steelmaker responded negatively to a preliminary finding from the Commerce Department that imposed a 256% import tax on Chinese corrosion-resistant steel. Lower duties will apply to imports from India, South Korea, and Italy, and Taiwanese imports won't have to pay any additional tariffs as a result of anti-dumping allegations. The moves will help U.S. Steel, but not to the extent that investors had hoped to see. As a result, both U.S. Steel and its domestic steelmaking peers failed to participate on what was otherwise a strong day for commodity-related stocks, and until the global trade picture clears, U.S. Steel could see its stock remain under pressure.