The good news is that biotech almost kept pace with NASDAQ last week; the bad news is it has a ways to go to catch up with the composite on a year-to-date basis. The NASDAQ Composite added 7% and the BioCentury 100 gained 4% last week, but the BC100 is down 19% on the year, while NASDAQ is nearly above water, down only 1%.
Last week's gain was only the third weekly advance for the BC100 in the first 10 weeks of the year. The NASDAQ also has only three positive weekly moves this year, but its down weeks have been less severe.
Providing a kick-start to biotech was Wednesday's news that Bristol-Myers and ImClone successfully renegotiated their agreement for IMCL's Erbitux cancer monoclonal antibody, erasing fears that the lucrative deal would be unwound in the wake of the FDA's refusal-to-file action at year end.
IMCL advanced $4.81 (20%) to $28.63 on 12.2 million shares on Wednesday before retreating to close Friday at $26.62, down $0.66 on the week. Investors were quick to note that only $100 million of pre-royalty money was taken off the table, while the new agreement accelerates $140 million to IMCL prior to the acceptance to the BLA (see "Erbitux Redux").
The new terms led some market watchers to speculate that the partners' Feb. 26 FDA meeting went better than anticipated. Last month, BMY said it would wait until after the meeting to decide on the future of its relationship after IMCL rebuffed the pharma company's first proposal to restructure the Erbitux deal (see BioCentury, Feb. 19).
The updraft helped some equity get priced, as three companies raised $180 million through follow-ons. The bulk went to in-licensor InterMune (ITMN), which raised $111 million in a bumped up deal that took only nine days to sell. Underwriters were Lehman; Morgan Stanley; JPMorgan; Robertson Stephens; UBS Warburg; and Adams Harkness & Hill. ITMN's shares actually have traded up since the filing: It priced the 3 million shares at $37, after filing to sell 2.5 million shares on Feb. 28, when it was at $36.31. ITMN has three