The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Endocyte, Acorda, Pharmacyclics, OncoGenex and Merrimack

Zacks Equity Research

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL – May 08, 2014 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the Endocyte (ECYT-Free Report), Acorda (ACOR-Free Report), Pharmacyclics (PCYC-Free Report), OncoGenex (OGXI-Free Report) and Merrimack (MACK-Free Report).
Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Wednesday’s Analyst Blog:

Biotech Stock Roundup

Last week, there was a slight recovery in the biotech sector with NASDAQ Biotechnology improving 2.19% and the NYSE ARCA Biotech Index gaining 3.27%. Most of the major biotech companies saw an improvement in their share prices. Meanwhile, several companies reported earnings and provided regulatory and pipeline updates.

Endocyte (ECYT-Free Report) Tumbles on Study Halt: Endocyte plunged 61.9% on news that a phase III study (:PROCEED) being conducted with its experimental cancer treatment, vintafolide, will be halted on the recommendation of a data safety monitoring board (:DSMB).

An interim futility analysis of the ovarian cancer study showed that vintafolide did not demonstrate efficacy on the pre-specified outcome of progression-free survival. The positive takeaway is that no safety issues were identified. A lung cancer study will continue.     

Acorda (ACOR-Free Report) Down on CRL: Acorda’s shares were down 9.8% on a complete response letter (CRL) from the FDA for Plumiaz nasal spray. Acorda was looking to get Plumiaz approved for treatment of people with epilepsy who experience cluster seizures. However, the FDA said that the regulatory application cannot be approved in the present form.

Acorda had used the 505(b)(2) pathway using Diastat as the reference drug to seek approval. Given the current situation, Acorda said that it does not expect FDA approval this year. Additional clinical work will most likely be required though at present there’s low visibility on how much time and cost this will involve. If the delay is significant, Pfizer’s experimental product which also has orphan drug status could reach the market first.

Pharmacyclics (PCYC-Free Report) Slips on Guidance: Despite delivering first quarter results far above expectations, Pharmacyclics saw its shares slipping 7.4% on disappointing guidance. Imbruvica, which has blockbuster potential, delivered sales of $56.2 million in its first full quarter on the market.

The main concern regarding Pharmacyclics’ results was guidance -- the company guided towards product sales of $295 million, plus or minus 5%. Though this guidance does not include milestone payments, nevertheless it was short of expectations. With Imbruvica approved for the more lucrative chronic lymphocytic leukemia indication as well, expectations were high that Imbruvica sales would soar significantly through the rest of the year and this would be reflected in the guidance.

OncoGenex (OGXI-Free Report) Slumps on Late-Stage Data: OncoGenex saw its shares losing more than half their value (down 60.3%) on news that the company’s experimental prostate cancer drug, custirsen, failed to meet the primary endpoint in a late-stage study.

Merrimack (MACK-Free Report) Soars on Pancreatic Cancer Data: Merrimack reported positive results from a phase III study on its pancreatic cancer experimental treatment -- MM-398. MM-398, when used in combination with chemotherapy increased overall survival by 1.9 months compared to chemotherapy alone. This is encouraging data considering pancreatic cancer is extremely difficult to treat and there have been very few successful phase III trials in pancreatic cancer in the past 25 years. The mortality rate for pancreatic cancer, which is the fourth most common cause of cancer death, is very high.

The study was conducted in patients who had been previously been treated with Gemzar. Although MM-398 did not achieve much success as a monotherapy, investors focused on the combination treatment data and sent the shares soaring 59.2%. The company will file for FDA approval this year.

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

Zacks "Profit from the Pros" e-mail newsletter provides highlights of the latest analysis from Zacks Equity Research. Subscribe to this free newsletter today.
About Zacks is a property of Zacks Investment Research, Inc., which was formed in 1978. The later formation of the Zacks Rank, a proprietary stock picking system; continues to outperform the market by nearly a 3 to 1 margin. The best way to unlock the profitable stock recommendations and market insights of Zacks Investment Research is through our free daily email newsletter; Profit from the Pros.  In short, it's your steady flow of Profitable ideas GUARANTEED to be worth your time! Register for your free subscription to Profit from the Pros.
Get the full Report on ECYT - FREE
Get the full Report on ACOR - FREE
Get the full Report on PCYC - FREE
Get the full Report on OGXI - FREE
Get the full Report on MACK - FREE
Follow us on Twitter:

Join us on Facebook:

Zacks Investment Research is under common control with affiliated entities (including a broker-dealer and an investment adviser), which may engage in transactions involving the foregoing securities for the clients of such affiliates.
Media Contact
Zacks Investment Research
800-767-3771 ext. 9339

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

Read the analyst report on ECYT

Read the analyst report on ACOR

Read the analyst report on PCYC

Read the analyst report on OGXI

Read the analyst report on MACK

Zacks Investment Research