4Q Stock Wrap-Up: Go big or go home
Large cap biotechs up in 4Q for strong 2012; only micro-caps end year in red
Large cap biotechs were the only market cap segment to end 4Q12 in the black, finishing up 1% to post a 26% gain on the year. Small caps brought up the rear in 4Q, but only the micro-caps closed out 2012 in the red, down 5% on the full year.
The $5 billion-plus tier outperformed all segments for the year (see "Results by Market Cap").
Regeneron was up 12% on the quarter after again raising sales guidance for Eylea aflibercept, used for wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The company's 3Q12 GAAP EPS of $1.72 soundly beat the Street's $0.95 estimate. Later in the fourth quarter, the company received a favorable opinion from EMA's CHMP for Zaltrap ziv-aflibercept for metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC).
Gilead gained 11% in 4Q12 thanks in large part to strong Phase IIb data for its fixed-dose HCV NS5A-nuc regimen of sofosbuvir, GS-5885 and ribavirin.
The poorest quarterly performances in the segment came from Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., which shed 25%, and Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc., which lost 18%. Vertex was hurt by disappointing sales of HCV drug Incivek telaprevir and cystic fibrosis (CF) drug Kalydeco ivacaftor. The Street attributed Alexion's fall to a lack of near-term milestones and profit taking.
Among companies in the $1-$4.9 billion tier, ThromboGenics N.V. gained 35% in 4Q after FDA approved Jetrea ocriplasmin to treat symptomatic vitreomacular adhesion (VMA). BioMarin Pharmaceuticals Inc. rose 22% following positive Phase III data for Vimizim elosulfase alfa (formerly GALNS) to treat mucopolysaccharidosis IVA (MPS-IVA; Morquio's syndrome).
Amarin Corp. plc was the worst performer among the mid-caps last quarter. It fell 36% after securing $100 million in debt and providing an update on launch plans for hypertriglyceridemia drug Vascepa icosapent ethyl in 1Q13. Amarin said it planned to hire a 250-300 person sales force but added that those plans did not affect its commercialization strategy, which includes three potential paths - an acquisition of the company, a partnership or self-commercialization.
Nektar Therapeutics lost 31% even as it reported positive Phase III data for opioid-induced constipation drug naloxegol. Prior to releasing the data, Nektar said FDA was investigating a potential cardiovascular class effect of mu opioid antagonists.
Two newly public companies with lead products in pivotal testing were the highlight of companies in the