Archive for August, 2009

Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (TRBN) – Buzz Stock of the Day

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Shares of Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Inc.(NASDAQ: TRBN) were up as much as 76 percent in morning trading on Friday, after the company announced a drug development deal for its leukemia drug with Facet Biotech Corp.(NASDAQ: FACT) .

“In considering alliance opportunities for TRU-016 we sought to retain meaningful economics in this exciting first-in-class product candidate, while enabling aggressive joint development with a partner who shared our vision and brought complementary experience and resources to the alliance,” said Trubion’s Chairman and CEO, Dr. Peter Thompson.

Trubion will receive $20 million upfront from Facet, with the potential for an additional $176.5 million based on certain developmental, regulatory and commercialization milestones. Additionally, Facet will purchase 2.2 million newly-issued shares of Trubion common stock, worth approximately $10 million.

TRU-016 is currently in clinical development for the treatment of B-cell malignancies, otherwise known as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL, and is a CD37-directed Small Modular ImmunoPharmaceutical (SMIP™) protein therapeutic. TRU-016 uses a different active mechanism than CD20-directed treatments, and as a result, may provide cancer patients enhanced therapeutic options and improved effectiveness when used alone or with chemotherapy and/or CD20-based therapeutics. The drug could also have the potential to treat other cancers that affect the immune system’s B-cells, along with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

In June 2009, positive results following preliminary analysis from the Phase 1 clinical trial of TRU-016 for the treatment of CLL were announced. The objectives of the Phase 1 TRU-016 CLL study were to define safety and tolerability, identify a maximum tolerated dose, evaluate pharmacology and pharmacodynamics, and assess preliminary clinical activity.

“(The Trubion drug) is a promising therapeutic with impressive preclinical and preliminary clinical data for CLL that will greatly enhance our pipeline and support a key strategic objective, which is to build a robust oncology portfolio,” said Faheem Hasnain, president and CEO of Facet Biotech, in a statement.
Both companies will share costs associated with developing, selling and marketing the drug. The deal also states that Facet and Trubion will share worldwide rights to the drug as well as rights to other, similar CD37-directed protein therapeutic drugs in Trubion’s pipeline.

“We are delighted to have Facet as our partner,” Dr. Thompson said. “Coupled with our own strengths in the discovery and development of novel protein therapeutics, their expertise will afford us the opportunity to pursue the clinical development and commercialization of TRU-016 and other CD37-directed therapeutics in the most aggressive manner possible.”

TorreyPines Therapeutics, Inc. (TPTX) Buzz Stock of the Day

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Shares of TorreyPines Therapeutics, Inc.(NASDAQ: TPTX) skyrocketed more than 261 percent in morning trading after proposed merger candidate, Raptor Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (OTCBB: RPTP) announced it raised $5 million through a private placement offering. A portion of the proceeds would be used to close a merger with TorreyPines, which was announced in late July.

Raptor raised $2.6 million in a private placement and another $2.4 million in a warrant exchange. The company sold 7.5 million units (each a share of stock and a warrant to buy another half share). It also raised about $2.4 million by exchanging warrants from a previous private placement in 2008 for new warrants. Proceeds will also be used to fund late-stage drug development and commercialization.

Under terms of the agreement, Raptor will be merged with and into a wholly owned subsidiary of TorreyPines, and TorreyPines will issue its common stock to Raptor stockholders. TorreyPines stockholders will own about 5 percent in the combined company, which will be named Raptor Pharmaceuticals, the companies said. The merger is expected to complete in the fourth quarter of 2009, dependent on the review process by regulatory agencies.

Additionally, TorreyPines will implement a reverse stock split to ensure compliance with Nasdaq listing requirements, and the size of the split will be determined at closing.

Raptor CEO, Christopher Starr will be the CEO of the combined company. TorreyPines CEO Evelyn Graham, CFO Craig Johnson, and Vice President Paul Schneider will remain with the combined company under new employment contracts that expire in 2010. TorreyPines directors have agreed to quit when the deal is closed.

TorreyPines’ products under development include Tezampanel, which completed Phase II clinical trial for the treatment of migraine; and NGX426, which completed Phase I clinical trial for the treatment of migraine and neuropathic pain. It also develops NGX267, a Phase II clinical trial product for the treatment of Xerostomia; and a Gamma-secretase modulator drug discovery program as a treatment for Alzheimer s disease. The company has a strategic alliance and licensing agreements with Eisai Co., Ltd.; Eli Lilly and Company; Life Science Research Israel, Ltd.; and University of Iowa Research Foundation.

Harris Interactive (HPOL) Buzz Stock of the Day

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Industry researcher, Harris Interactive, Inc. (NASDAQ: HPOL) has seen steady growth in its share price in the days following the company’s recent annual report in spite of a 23 percent decline in annual revenue compared to the previous fiscal year.

The Rochester-based company did however manage to generate $6.9 million in adjusted EBITDA during fiscal year 2009, thanks in large part to aggressive cost cutting initiatives made throughout the year.

“As a result of the proactive cost reduction actions we took this past December and March to bring our cost structure in line with our revenues, we reduced expenses by nearly $22 million on an annualized basis,” said Harris Interactive, CEO, Kimberly Till.

On a consolidated basis, Harris’ revenues were $184.3 million for fiscal 2009, a decrease of $54.4 million or 23 percent when compared to fiscal 2008. The company’s operating loss for fiscal 2009 was $56.4 million compared to an $84.6 million operating loss for 2008.

Among the highlights was an 82 percent increase in US dollar revenue from Asia, compared to the previous fiscal year and a $17.4 million reduction in SG&A expenses, a $2.1 million decrease in stock based compensation expense driven by departures of several senior executives, a $2 million decrease in travel and related expenses driven by our continued focus on controlling costs and a $900,000 decrease in office rent driven by space reductions taken during fiscal 2008 and 2009.

According to Till, Harris Interactive is focused on four key components of its strategy in fiscal 2010: deliver superior client insights and service; leveraging technology; creating a more seamless global account program; and development of new products and services.

“While we had a difficult year in the face of a challenging market, I am very pleased with a number of key initiatives we accomplished during the year, including assembling a very strong management team across key areas of the business and investing in business development and client outreach to rebuild revenues,” said Till.

Comstock Homebuilding Companies (CHCI)—Buzz Stock of the Day

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Shares of Comstock Homebuilding Companies (NASDAQ: CHCI) have been trading higher since Monday, after the National Association of Homebuilders/Wells Fargo confidence index climbed to 18, matching forecasts by economists and reaching its highest level since June 2008.

“Inventory is being cleared and that is starting to benefit the new-home market,” Julia Coronado, a senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York, told Bloomberg. “With a few months’ lag, that will lead to a turnaround in construction activity.”

Comstock Homebuilding Companies, Inc. could be in a great position to take advantage of the turnaround in the housing market. The Virginia-based real estate development company reached a foreclosure agreement with Wachovia Bank that will eliminate $17.8 million of debt. The announcement sent shares soaring more than 140 percent higher in morning trading Friday.

The agreement calls for Comstock to foreclose on several real estate holdings, and Wachovia to release the company of obligations and guarantees pertaining to $17.8 million of the company’s $77.2 million secured debt.

“We are very pleased to have finalized an agreement with Wachovia that will reduce the balance due to Wachovia from approximately $17.8 million to approximately $425,000.00 while also facilitating delivery of certain backlog units,” said Comstock’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Christopher Clemente in a statement,

In addition to the foreclosure on properties, the terms of the agreement also provide for the concurrent execution of a non-interest bearing unsecured deficiency note in the amount of approximately $1.8 million. However, the deficiency note is reduced by the principal payments related to certain homes conveyed by Comstock prior to September 30, 2009. Based on current sales backlog, the September 30, 2009 deficiency note balance is expected to be in the range of $425,000.00, subject to increase or decrease based on additional sales or cancellations.

Comstock’s foreclosed assets include raw land, several single family farm units, and condominium and real estate developments in North Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. The foreclosures are expected to be completed between the last quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2010.

“We remain focused on reaching similar amicable agreements with our other secured lenders and we will continue to take the steps necessary to position Comstock for a return to profitability as market conditions improve.”

Anika Therapeutics Inc. (ANIK) Buzz Stock of the Day

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Shares of Anika Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: ANIK) rose nearly 74 percent on Thursday after the drug maker received approval from Health Canada for its osteoarthritis of the knee treatment, MONOVISC™. The product will be distributed in Canada by Anika’s distribution partner, Helix BioPharma Corp.

“Health Canada approval marks an important next step as we continue to expand the geographic reach of our novel osteoarthritis treatment therapy and establish MONOVISC as the premier single-injection product on the market worldwide,” said Charles H. Sherwood, Ph.D., Anika’s President and Chief Executive Officer in a statement.

The single injection viscosupplement drug has been available in the European Union since early 2008 and is currently being evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The company has steadily made progress toward U.S. approval of the knee drug, and is expected to submit additional clinical data to the FDA before the end of the year. The company filed a modular premarket approval (PMA) application with the FDA for MONOVISC, which allows for submission of clinical data on an ongoing basis rather than all at once. Anika had previously presented an initial module of trial data for MONOVISC™.

MONOVISC™ is currently undergoing a retreatment study, which focuses on the safety of the drug and the benefits of repeat injections.

Anika also received a boost on Thursday as news broke that a U.S. advisory panel recommended that regulators reject a similar injection treatment for knee pain submitted by rival companies Q-Med AB and Smith & Nephew.

The panel decision could have long-term advantages for Anika if MONOVISC™ gets FDA approval. The drug would be the second single injection product on the market with the other being Genzyme Corporation’s drug, Synvisc-One™.