12:00 AM
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Mar 11, 2002
 |  BioCentury  |  Finance

Ebb & Flow

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).

Wind in the 'sales'

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 marketed products: Actimmune for chronic granulomatous disease for osteopetrosis, chronic hepatitis C virus treatment Infergen and Amphotec for invasive aspergillosis.

Salix (SLXP) raised $53.5 million, but not without taking a haircut on the road. SLXP sold 4 million shares at $13.37, $3.89 (23%) below its Feb. 12 filing price of $17.26. SLXP markets its Colzal anti-inflammatory to treat mildly to moderately active ulcerative colitis. Underwriters were UBS Warburg; Wachovia; Thomas Weisel Partners; Leerink; and SunTrust.

In Britain, infectious diseases and metabolic company Provalis (LSE:PRO; PVLS) raised £10.8 million ($15.5 million) in a 1-for-5 placing and open offer of 96 million shares at 11.25p through underwriters Rothschild and Beeson Gregory. PRO plans to invest the new funds in R&D and the development of its MicroG OTC diabetes diagnostic.

The three deals bring to $485.2 million the total raised through nine follow-ons so far this year. Another follow-on also was added to the queue last week, as Axcan (TSE:AXP; AXCA) filed to sell 4.5 million shares through JPMorgan; Thomas Weisel; UBS Warburg; National Bank Financial; and SunTrust Capital. The gastroenterology company would raise $54 million if it priced at its Friday NASDAQ close of $11.99.

Ins & outs of U.K. indices

Neurological group Celltech (LSE:CCH; CLL) is to be demoted from the blue chip FTSE 100 index to the FTSE 250 index. The company's market cap has declined $851 million to $2.6 billion since Dec. 28 on the back of waning investor enthusiasm for biotech stocks. CCH was down 11p to 661.5p on the week. On NASDAQ, CLL closed at $19.20, down $0.60.

Also moving down was cancer and metabolic play Oxford GlycoSciences (LSE:OGS; OGSI), which will leave the FTSE 250 and move back into the FTSE SmallCap index. OGS fell 52.5p (11%) to 412.5p last week on news that Michael Kranda, CEO for the last six years, will be stepping down for personal reasons. Adding to the decline was investor disappointment that the company gave no update on its Vevesca Gaucher disease product. OGS is awaiting EU and U.S. approval (see BioCentury, July 16 & Aug. 27,...

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