Friday, December 19, 2014

Agenus Call Luck, Alexion analysis

I had a bit of luck with my Agenus positive call earlier this week, but first a link to my article Seeking Alpha published yesterday:

Alexion's Rare Disease Model Analyzed

My article on Agenus might seem prescient:

Agenus: Herpes Competition And Cancer Checkpoint Prospects

You might even think my articles can move a small-cap stock. As I write Agenus is at $4.04 per share. I was near $3.12 when my article came out on the 11th around noon.

In fact Agenus and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK's) announced good data on GSK's shingles vaccine, on the 18th. Agenus contributed an adjuvant to the vaccine (which makes it work better), and is entitled to a milestone payment (amount not stated) and royalties when the vaccine is commercialized. Keep in mind that there is not yet regulatory approval and royalties for an adjuvant are not in the same magnitude as if GSK had licensed the entire vaccine from Agenus.

Still, this is Agenus's second time to have approvable results in a partnership with its QS-21 Stimulon. The other is also with GSK, for malaria.

Some of the vaccines using IP licensed from Agenus have failed. As can be expected, the price of Agenus stock goes down when a failure is announced, and up when good trial results come in. Given that today's vaccines are for diseases that are typically hard to vaccinate for (else they would have had working vaccines by the 1960's), any company working on a variety of vaccines is going to have some failures. Any success is a breakthrough.

The fact that Agenus now has 2 working vaccines provides proof of concept. Read my article to see just how broad Agenus's platform is.

I own shares of Agenus but not of GSK, though I think GSK is a good buy right now and reserve the right to buy it at any time.

On the downside Cyclacel (CYCC) announced its AML (acute myeloid leukemia) trial is unlikely to achieve statistically significant results. Nevertheless the trial will continue as there is little hope for these patients, Cyclacel's oral therapy is easy to administer and tolerate, and there is a small chance that while Sapacitabine may be no better than Dacogen in efficacy, patients may prefer it because it can be taken at home. I lost money on CYCC, but am holding onto my shares because Cyclacel also has a shot at the easier-to-treat disease myelodysplastic syndrome.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Agenus and American Prosperity 3.0

I originally heard about a company called Agenus (AGEN) from a Seeking Alpha article. It seemed interesting, but I had doubts about its vaccine program for cancers and infectious diseases. But after a while I thought its market capitalization was low compared to its chances of success. I bought a small amount in October 2013, and have added to it sense then. It is a risky small cap stock, so although I think it might turn into a large cap stock somewhere down the road, I keep it to a small percent of my portfolio. I own shares in a number of small, risky biotechnology companies.

Here's my latest Seeking Alpha article: Agenus Herpes Competition and Cancer Checkpoint Prospects.

On a more humorous note you could try my one-page history of the American economy, American Prosperity 3.0.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Intel thoughts

Newest Seeking Alpha Article:

Intel Expiring or Renewing with Mobile and Cloud?

See my other: notes and posts on Intel

Note my worst performing stock that I nevertheless still have in my portfolio is Intel sort-of competitor AMD. My other AMD notes and posts.

The argument about Intel, AMD, Nvidia, and the various ARM chip makers will go on ad-infinitum. Want to get some hits on Seeking Alpha, write about something the techno investors feel they know enough to argue about. Is my opinion special? No, not really. But I already knew how to program when Intel introduced its first CPU ship in 1971. I have seen the demise of many companies, and I have seen IBM survive, to my surprise (my first computer was an IBM mainframe at university).

I don't give financial advice, but my own holdings have shifted from being mostly computer technology to mostly biotechnology over the past 10 years. And that worked out better than any one particular computer stock has for me.

I don't own Intel (INTC), but if I did I would likely hold it for the dividend and any ongoing upside to its general business.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Celgene analysis and Biogen Idec Alheimers therapy

My latest analysis of Celgene (CELG) is at Seeking Alpha:

Celgene Stock Price: Is It Bubbly?

Biogen Idec (BIIB) announced today it plans a Phase III trial for an Alzheimer's Disease (AD) therapy. I just recently wrote in Biogen Idec, PML Deaths, And Hemophilia Therapies that I was not counting any of its Alheimer's pipeline in my valuation, which was basically positive. And I'm still not.

The interim data on BIIB037, an anti-amyloid beta MAB (antibody), Phase 1b randomized, blinded, dose-escalated study, for early-stage AD, showed safety and the removal of beta amyloid from the brain. Also patients were tested for cognition and nerve function. Removal of amyloid corresponded with dose size and time of treatment. At 54 weeks the effects on cog were positive and statistically significant. The study is not even done yet.

Biogen is planning a Phase III trial, but that would be dependent on finishing the trial and permission from the FDA.

I hope this will turn out to be true and Alzheimer's patients will at last have a therapy that works, if administered early enough. However, I have seen false positive signals before, followed by failures in Phase II and Phase III trials. Some scientists question the correlation of amyloid deposits to mental deterioration. Cognitive trials tend to be subjective, even if double blinded.

I believe it is too early to get excited, but of course I will take a close look at the full data when it is published.

And, as I said in my article, if this therapy helps or prevents progression in Alzheimer's patients, the revenue and profits from it would likely eclipse anything we have seen in pharmaceutical history.

Disclosure: I own stock in both BIIB and CELG.