Immunotherapy ETF Heats Up

Noah Kiedrowski - INO.com Contributor - Biotech - Immunotherapy


Immunotherapy Heats Up

The Immunotherapy space has ushered in a new class of therapies to combat a variety of diseases, most notably cancer. Immunotherapy has been emerging from the backdrop of oncology research for years most notably from smaller companies such as Dendreon, Kite Pharma and Juno Therapeutics as leaders in the space. Dendreon was first-to-market with its activated cellular therapy, Provenge® in 2010 followed by a 7-year gap until Novartis’ Kymriah® was approved in August of 2017 which was shortly followed up by the approval of Kite Pharma’s Yescata® in November of 2017.

Now, immunotherapy is at the forefront in oncology as a leading therapeutic which has been shown to cure cancer in previously untreatable patients. Immunotherapy ushers in a new class of promising therapies by harnessing the body’s immune system to recognize and eradicate debilitating diseases, specifically cancer. Immunotherapy has been shown to have a favorable side effect profile and best-in-class efficacy across many different disease states. These therapies may provide a powerful technology to contend with a host of diseases, and in a future state, may potentially serve as a preventative technology similar to a traditional vaccine. Immunotherapy has evolved into many different classifications with differing modalities over the past several years, which has given rise to a growing number mid and small-cap biotechnology companies. In late 2015, The Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (NASDAQ:CNCR) and provides investors with an opportunity to invest in this unique cohort.

Immunotherapy – The Science

Generally speaking, cancer is immuno-tolerant, meaning these cancerous cells evade the surveillance mechanisms of the immune system and thus persist, proliferate and manifest disease within the host. The immune system cannot distinguish cancerous cells from normal host cells thus giving rise to malignancy and metastasis. Continue reading "Immunotherapy ETF Heats Up"

IBB - Challenging 2016, Recovering 2017 and Resurgence in 2018

Noah Kiedrowski - INO.com Contributor - Biotech


Introduction

The Biotechnology cohort has finally broken out and reached a 52-week high while making up much of the lost ground during the pummeling from both sides of the political aisle during the 2016 presidential race. Tweets and excerpts from the campaign trail from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump put the biotech cohort through the wringer via taking aim at drug pricing. The sustained sell-off lead to the entire cohort to sell off from all-time highs of $132 to $83 or 37% in only six months as measured via the iShares Biotechnology Index ETF (IBB). From February of 2016 through June of 2017 IBB traded in a tight range from $83 to $98 while Donald Trump continually fired shots against the healthcare sector. Any healthcare related stocks became volatile on the heels of any statement or tweet from Donald Trump. Shortly after the inauguration, Trump stated that drug companies are “getting away with murder” when speaking to the drug pricing issue. The previously proposed healthcare legislation never materialized thus a level of certainty has entered the picture, and the drug pricing threats are not perceived to be as bad as initially feared. Recently the index has had a resurgence moving to a 52-week high of $118 with a much clearer runway ahead as the political headwinds continue to abate. As the confluence of abating political threats, drug pricing certainty, merger, and acquisition activity ramps and continuity of the current health care backdrop, I feel the index has room to continue its upward trend and retrace its 2015 level of $130.

AbbVie Earnings Setting the Tone

AbbVie (ABBV) reported Q4 numbers that beat expectations and updated guidance above consensus estimates for 2018, and as a result, the stock moved up 14%. This earnings announcement stroked the entire biotech cohort and had pumped more life into the group that has seen a steady rise leading up to this statement. Other large-cap companies that have plenty of upside based on its multi-year highs include Celgene (CELG) which is off 35%, Regeneron (REGN) which is off 31% and Gilead (GILD) which is off 29% based on current prices. Even specialty pharma Allergan (AGN) is off a staggering 43% as well. All of these names may be due for a resurgence if quarterly results beat and guidance is raised similarly as AbbVie. Continue reading "IBB - Challenging 2016, Recovering 2017 and Resurgence in 2018"

IBB - A Clearer Runway Ahead

Noah Kiedrowski - INO.com Contributor - Biotech


Introduction

The Biotechnology cohort has finally made up much of the lost ground during the pummeling from both sides of the political aisle during the 2016 presidential race. Tweets and excerpts during the campaign trail from Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump put the biotech cohort through the wringer via aiming for drug pricing. The sustained sell-off lead to the entire cohort to sell off from all-time highs of $400 to $240 or 40% in only 6 months as measured via the iShares Biotechnology Index ETF (NASDAQ:IBB). From February of 2016 through June of 2017 IBB traded in a tight range from $250 to $300 while Donald Trump continually fired shots against the healthcare sector. Any healthcare related stocks became volatile on the heels of any statement or tweet from Donald Trump. Shortly after the inauguration, Trump stated that drug companies are “getting away with murder” when speaking to the drug pricing issue. As the proposed healthcare legislation appears to be dead as of now, a level of certainty has entered the picture, and the drug pricing threats are not perceived to be as bad as initially feared. Recently the index has had a resurgence moving to a 52-week high of $335 with a much clearer runway ahead as the political headwinds continue to abate. As the confluence of abating political threats, drug pricing certainty, and continuity of the current healthcare backdrop, I feel the index has room to continue its upward trend and retrace its 2015 level of $400. Continue reading "IBB - A Clearer Runway Ahead"

IBB - Biotech Catches Fire... Finally

Noah Kiedrowski - INO.com Contributor - Biotech


Introduction

Biotechnology has been a difficult space to deploy capital over the previous ~18-24 months. This cohort plummeted over and over again from both sides of the political isle as the 2016 presidential race unfolded. Between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump taking aim at drug pricing via speeches, Twitter, and other social media platforms, largely attributed to the entire cohort selling off. The sustained sell-off lead to the entire cohort to sell off from all-time highs of $400 to $240 or 40% in only six months as measured via the iShares Biotechnology Index ETF (NASDAQ:IBB). From February of 2016 through June of 2017 IBB traded in a tight range from $250 to $300 while Donald Trump continually fired shots against the healthcare sector. Any healthcare related stocks became volatile on the heels of any statement or tweet from Donald Trump. Shortly after the inauguration, Trump stated that drug companies are “getting away with murder” when speaking to the drug pricing issue. Now he’s come out and stated that he’s working on a “new system where there will be competition in the drug industry.” Every time any of these remarks were tweeted, they immediately resulted in a downtrend across the entire biotech cohort. As the new proposed health care legislation enters its initial stages in Congress, a level of certainty has entered the picture, and the drug pricing threats are not perceived to be as bad as initially feared. Recently the index has had a resurgence moving from $284 to $321 or 13% over the past month. As the political headwinds continue to abate, I feel the index has room to continue its upward trend. Continue reading "IBB - Biotech Catches Fire... Finally"

IBB - The Political Tug-Of-War Rages On

Noah Kiedrowski - INO.com Contributor - Biotech


Donald Trump is back at it again via Twitter and once again he has ignited the political tug-of-war between potential policy changes and Wall Street. The overall healthcare sector has become volatile on the heels of any statement or tweet from Donald Trump. Shortly after the inauguration, Trump held a press conference and stated that drug companies are “getting away with murder” when speaking to the drug pricing debate. Now he’s come out and stated that he’s working on a “new system where there will be competition in the drug industry.” Every time any of these remarks are tweeted, they immediately result in a downtrend across the entire biotech cohort, this time was no exception. The iShares Biotechnology Index ETF (NASDAQ:IBB) traded down 1.7% or $5 per share once tweeted. The healthcare sector has been faced with an uncertain and volatile political backdrop. The overall healthcare umbrella has become sensitive to any tweet from President Trump as he vows to bring down drug prices. Although he’s pursuing his agenda against drug pricing, IBB has become resilient as many of these threats may have already been priced-in as seen in many healthcare-related stocks that have seen sharp and sustained sell-offs. Ostensibly, many of these stocks are trading at multiyear low P/E ratios and as a cohort (gauged via the IBB proxy) looks to be less sensitive to tweets/threats and continues to test the $300 barrier.

IBB Chart
Figure 1 – IBB price activity and resilience over the previous 6 months with pronounced volatility that coincides with political rhetoric against drug pricing

The Drug Pricing Transparency Coalition

Many large-cap pharma companies have created an unofficial drug pricing coalition to provide transparency in an effort to separate themselves from a handful of egregious price increases to contend with Trump’s aim at the drug companies. Continue reading "IBB - The Political Tug-Of-War Rages On"