Today's match is a battle of the fallen, pitting Cell Therapeutics
Both have fallen considerably, off about 80% from their more recent highs. That doesn't necessarily make them buys. (Some companies do fall to zero, you know.)
Running out of cash
In Cell Therapeutics' case, the company needs to run an additional trial to get pixantrone approved to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). That won't be cheap, and the company doesn't have much money in the bank. A special shareholder meeting to increase the share count in order to make a secondary offering has been suspended multiple times. Yesterday, the company sold some shares to a private investor, but it only raised about $4 million. That's hardly going to get the job done.
Even if the company can find more cash -- perhaps by mortgaging itself to the hilt -- there's no guarantee that the drug will pass the clinical trial. If pixantrone does clear that hurdle, the drug could find a home among other drugs that treat NHL -- Biogen Idec
Trying times for a tester
Sequenom has revenue coming in, but it's not turning a profit. Over the first quarter, its cash and short term investments fell by $13.5 million. A pathway to profitability isn't exactly clear-cut.
The company's ability to bring an accurate blood test for Down syndrome to market is equally unclear. Last year, the company seemed to have a test that could accurately read out fetal genetic material from the mother's blood. It turns out that the researchers knew the correct readout of the samples ahead of time, which made interpreting the results rather easy.
The company plans to push forward, validating the test with blinded samples. Will the tests come up accurate? It's fairly hard to handicap. We're talking about a new technology that may or may not be sensitive enough to make an accurate call.
And the victor is…
Between Cell Therapeutics and Sequenom, the winner is Sequenom, simply thanks to its slightly better financial footing. That said, there's no reason you have to buy either. As Tom Gardner pointed out yesterday, there are thousands of companies available for investing. If you're going to take a flier on either of these, make sure it's a very small percentage of your portfolio.