Thursday, January 11, 2007

Stem Cell Stocks: Buying a Will-o'-The-Wisp?

To slightly paraphrase one analyst, anybody buying stem cell stocks solely based on the House vote on ESC research should be prepared for a long, hard ride.

In the wake of the Congressional action, Aaron Smith of CNN prepared a more nuanced report on stem cell stocks than we saw in news reports last week.

Smith wrote:
"In anticipation of today's vote, investor interest in biotech stocks has been whipped up, though biotechs probably wouldn't benefit directly from the funding, even if it's eventually approved.

"'This is a step in the right direction, but if anyone is buying StemCells Inc. based on this one vote, they need to rethink their priorities,' said Steve Brozak, analyst at the investment and research firm WBB, referring to one of the biotechs involved in stem cell research."
The CNN report continued:
"Although StemCells Inc. (down $0.08 to $3.35) stock fell about 2 percent Thursday, the stock's climbed more than 25 percent so far this year. It's the most recognizable name in the industry, analysts say, even though it doesn't stand to benefit directly from the vote.

"'The stock [StemCells] is probably most tied to political movement, just because of the ticker," said Jose Haresco, analyst for Merriman Curhan Ford & Co., an investment research firm, referring to the company's stock symbol of STEM. "It's almost a perfect barometer."

"The stock of Aastrom Biosciences (down $0.08 to $1.46) slumped about 5 percent Thursday, but overall gained about 20 percent this year. Haresco said that StemCells and Aastrom specialize in the use of adult stem cells however, not the ones derived from human embryos, which are the subject of the bill.

"The stock price for Osiris Therapeutics (down $1.37 to $26.77, another biotech specializing in adult stem cells, also gained this year, though it slumped about 5 percent in Thursday trading.

Geron Corp., (up $0.20 to $8.90) a biotech developing stem cell technology which is based on human embryos, has been volatile this year and only pulled into the plus column Thursday, when the stock rallied about 2 percent. The stocks, save for Geron, had run up after news of the possible House vote first surfaced last week.

"'Geron is clearly at the top of the pack," said Brozak of WBB, who rates the company a "strong buy," noting that it is the most advanced in the development of embryonic stem cell technology.

"Geron's most recent stem cell study involved rats, not people, though a spokesman for the company said early-stage human trials will begin in 2007."

1 comment:

  1. As an investor, you cannot deny the foreseeable profit potential Stem Cell Stocks posses for the future. As Governemtn barriers come tumbling down, profits will go soaring up. I found an article that really opened my eyes to this issue. It is important to note my neutrality on this issue as well. But, take a look...