Savvy investors rarely use significant public events - FDA panel meetings, major conferences - to buy stocks. Smart money makes its bets long before the news hits the wire. Such front running was underscored at last week's American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in San Francisco, which by many measures was well attended and newsy, but did little for the valuations of the companies presenting data.

The real price moves came in the weeks prior to the meeting, as money managers readied their portfolios for the upcoming presentations. Of the 15 companies that presented efficacy data at ASCO, 11 traded up in the month prior to the meeting, with five of the 11 moving up 20% or more (see "AS-is-CO"). The BioCentury 100 traded down 2.4% during the same period (April 13-May 11).

By comparison, of the 10 companies that traded up last week, only one - Genaera (GENR, up 50%) - rose more than 20%. And the daily moves were minimal. Eight of the 16 companies traded up on the day of their presentation (including moves on two days by Genentech (DNA), which had two different partners presenting data), seven traded down, and one was unchanged. No daily move was larger than +/-8%.

The daily moves reflected the lack of any major surprise, unlike last year's meeting where Phase II findings revealed that DNA's recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody against VEGF produced episodes of sudden and life threatening hemoptysis (expectoration of blood) in non-small cell lung cancer patients.


ASCO did serve to reinforce upbeat trends in attacking cancer through the EGF receptor and kinase pathways (see Cover Story & Technology Briefing, A5), but the meeting also showed that investors consider the jury is still out on antiangiogenic agents. EntreMed (ENMD) - the company most closely linked to the class of compounds - presented Phase I data on three angiogenesis inhibitors in several cancers (see B12). The trials were to assess safety and pharmacokinetics and showed the compounds to be well tolerated. But scuttlebutt was that investigators and investors were looking for a bit more tumor shrinkage, and ENMD lost $3.95 (21%) to $15.30 on 1.2 million shares on Monday, lost another $1 to $14.30 on Tuesday on 439,100 shares and closed Friday at $14.56, down $4.69 (24%) on the week. ENMD had no comment, but on Friday scheduled a conference call for today to "discuss the clinical significance of data" presented at ASCO.