4 Biotech Stocks Making Big Moves

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Friday’s trading session is seeing some incredible surges in several heavily traded biotechnology companies. Halozyme Therapeutics (NASDAQ:HALO), Intercept Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ICPT), Keryx Biopharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:KERX), and Pacific Biosciences of California (NASDAQ:PACB) are the stocks in focus.

Halozyme Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company developing and commercializing products targeting the extracellular matrix for the diabetes, oncology, dermatology, and drug delivery markets. The company’s product portfolio is primarily based on intellectual property covering the family of human enzymes known as hyaluronidases and additional enzymes that affect the extracellular matrix. Halozyme is using its proprietary product candidates to build a diversified pipeline capable of treating several indications. The company is also collaborating with several prominent biotechnology firms such as Roche, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and Baxter (NYSE:BAX).

Shares of Halozyme have been soaring over the past few weeks since the new CEO, Helen Torley, came on board. Because of Torley’s experience in helping Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ONXX) obtain a buyout, many investors and traders have been speculating that she can do the same for Halozyme. But based on the company’s potential, a suitor may have to really open up the checkbook to acquire this up-and-comer. Shares of Halozyme have risen by more than 11 percent during the past three trading sessions.

Intercept Pharmaceuticals is rebounding by 12 percent after shares had been hit hard during the prior trading sessions. Several analysts and research firms questioned whether the company warranted a market capitalization of more than $9 billion. While $9 billion may have been a bit of a stretch, the freefall that occurred after was also a bit much. The company is now valued at nearly $6 billion, which offers investors a nice entry point.

On January 10, Bank of America analyst Rachel McMinn assigned an $872 price target to Intercept Pharmaceuticals. McMinn estimates that the OCA market has the potential to be as big as or bigger than Hepatitis C. She also estimates that the product could generate peak sales of $4 billion.

On December 19, I wrote an article highlighting that Keryx Biopharmaceuticals could perform quite well in 2014. Shares of Keryx closed at $13.36 on December 19 and are currently trading at about $15.60 after the company announced that its Japanese partner, Japan Tobacco, had received manufacturing and marketing approval of ferric citrate from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare. Ferric citrate will be marketed by JT’s subsidiary, Torii Pharmaceutical Co., under the brand name Riona. Riona is an oral treatment for the improvement of hyperphosphatemia in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Because of the marketing approval, Keryx Biopharmaceuticals will receive a $10 million milestone payment. The company will also have the opportunity to generate significant royalties and additional milestone payments after certain sales targets are reached.

The next big announcement that Keryx investors are likely waiting for is the approval of the U.S. new drug application for Zerenex. The Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing the application and is scheduled to give its decision by June 7. If approved, there will likely be a significant rise in price, and it wouldn’t surprise me if shares continue to trade higher into the early part of the summer.

A fourth stock that is surging in today’s trading session is Pacific Biosciences of California. Pacific Biosciences develops, manufactures, and markets an integrated platform for genetic analysis. The company engages in developing a single molecule, real-time, SMRT technology for the detection of biological processes. Its SMRT technology allows for the study of the synthesis, composition, structure, and regulation of DNA.

Shares of Pacific Biosciences are up by more than 11 percent in Friday’s trading session. The company has demonstrated significant revenue growth during the first three quarters of 2013:

  • First quarter: $5.6 million
  • Second quarter: $6 million
  • Third quarter: $7.4 million

If the company can continue to expand sales of its novel sequencing platform, the PacBio RS II, the company’s market capitalization could be vastly higher than the current $420 million value.

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