Why These Biotech Stocks Tumbled Today: Ocular Therapeutix Inc (OCUL) and bluebird bio Inc (BLUE)

Ocular Therapeutix Inc

Ocular Therapeutix Inc (NASDAQ:OCUL) investors seem to be concerned with the company’s future following the news that Antony Mattessich will succeed Dr. Amar Sawhney as Chief Executive Officer, on or before September 30, 2017. Until that time, Dr. Sawhney will continue to serve as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors, and will then transition to an Executive Chairman role. As Executive Chairman, Dr. Sawhney will continue to devote substantial business time to Ocular Therapeutix. Mr. Mattessich has also been elected to the Company’s Board of Directors, effective immediately.

Ocular shares reacted to the news, falling nearly 13% to $10.07 in Friday’s trading session.

“I am tremendously excited to have Antony Mattessich join the Ocular Therapeutix team. Antony’s strong track record of commercial, operational and business development experience will build upon the research and development foundation established through the efforts of Ocular Therapeutix’s founding team,” said Amar Sawhney, Ph.D., President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. “Antony has over 25 years of experience building, managing and growing global pharmaceutical organizations to large, successful companies and brands. We are fortunate to be able to attract someone of his caliber to lead Ocular. In my capacity as Executive Chairman of the Board, I will continue to provide Ocular Therapeutix with my input and expertise to facilitate continuity and a smooth transition as we head to this exciting new phase for the Company,” continued Dr. Sawhney.

Mr. Mattessich brings a wealth of experience to Ocular Therapeutix, having held leadership roles for a number of global pharmaceutical companies across the US, Europe and Asia, including Novartis, Bristol Meyers Squibb and Merck & Co. Over the course of his career, Mr. Mattessich has developed expertise across multiple disciplines, including general management, global marketing, new product planning, R&D and business development. Most recently, Mr. Mattessich was the Managing Director of one of the world’s largest privately-owned pharmaceutical companies, Mundipharma. Antony holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley.

“It is an exciting time to join Ocular Therapeutix,” stated Mr. Mattessich. “I believe the Company has tremendous potential and I look forward to applying my expertise to advancing Ocular’s robust pipeline of product candidates that the team has built under Amar’s guidance.”

To facilitate Mr. Mattessich’s election to the Board of Directors, James Garvey has resigned from the Board. Dr. Sawhney added, “As one of the earliest venture investors, we thank Jim for his many years of invaluable service on the Board of Directors.”

On the ratings front, Ocular has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on May 8, BTIG analyst Dane Leone downgraded OCUL to Hold. Separately, on May 5, Cantor Fitzgerald’s Elemer Piros reiterated a Buy rating on the stock and has a price target of $35.

According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Dane Leone and Elemer Piros have a yearly average return of 18.9% and a loss of 2.1% respectively. Leone has a success rate of 73% and is ranked #109 out of 4583 analysts, while Piros has a success rate of 47% and is ranked #3807.

bluebird bio Inc

bluebird bio Inc (NASDAQ:BLUE) shares tumbled nearly 10% to $106.74, after the drug maker announced early interim data from the ongoing Northstar-2 (HGB-207) Phase 3 clinical study of LentiGlobin drug product in patients with transfusion-dependent β-thalassemia (TDT) and non-β0/β0 genotypes.

Cantor analyst Elemer Piros commented, “Despite the positive results for thalassemia, we do not see readthrough for SCD, which remains the key challenge for bluebird. The process in SCD patients is undergoing several modifications including transfusions, conditioning, method of cell sourcing, and transduction. Although the thalassemia data demonstrate an improvement to the drug product vector copy number (DP VCN), more is required for SCD. From the data of two patients (1207 and 1208) treated with a partially modified protocol, including transfusions prior to transplantation, the original paradigm of significantly reduced peripheral VCN from DP VCN was observed (recent data were presented on a log scale).”

“While SCD patient 1204 has been heralded as the program’s most successful outcome, the occurrence of a VOC secondary to acute gastroenteritis muddles the value proposition of the therapy, in our view. In addition, patient 1207, who had HbA T87Q and HbF hemoglobin concentration of 35% at six months, still suffered from acute chest syndrome resulting in hospitalization. In our view, these events could dampen the value proposition of a therapy designed for the purpose of a one-time cure,” the analyst added.

As such, Piros reiterates a Sell rating on BLUE, with a price target of $39.00. According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Piros has a yearly average loss of 2.1% and success rate of 47%.

Overall, 2 research analysts have rated the stock with a Sell rating, 2 research analysts have assigned a Hold rating and 9 research analysts have given a Buy rating to the stock. When considering if perhaps the stock is under or overvalued, the average price target is $100.60 which is -8.8% under where the stock opened today.


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