Investors again test Greater Fool theory

They're doing it again. Investors have run up the price of The Immune Response Corp.'s shares 43 percent since May 14 in anticipation of the results of IMNR's pivotal Phase II/III trial of its therapeutic AIDS vaccine, which the company will present on Wednesday at the IXth International Conference on AIDS.

But investors could be forgetting a lesson that should have been brought home after Synergen Inc.'s sepsis data was presented just two and a half months ago: most data is equivocal at best, especially in complex diseases.

"I think we learned a set of good lessons in fields like sepsis, AIDS and wound healing, where we don't understand the end points very well," said Cowen & Co. analyst Joyce Lonergan. "The end points are being thrashed out at the FDA even as we speak. I think you should fundamentally invest after you've seen the data."

103-patient study