Buy, Sell, or Hold: Cell Therapeutics

Cell Therapeutics (NAS: CTIC) ended last week on a high note, with its shares up 15% on Friday following news that Pixuvri, its experimental non-Hodgkin's lymphoma drug, should receive a decision on its marketability by the European Medicine Agency by mid-February.

If Cell Therapeutics can keep this up, it'll only need to gain roughly 44,000%more to get back to where its stock price was 10 years ago. Suffice it to say, I think this company's shareholders deserve the ultimate endurance award.

Regardless of whether you're a bull or bear, traders on both sides of the coin have reason to be excited about Cell Therapeutics in 2012. Let's take a look at some of the things that could make you want to buy, sell, or possibly hold Cell Therapeutics this year, and at the end I'll weigh in with my take.

Optimists are clearly focused on the expected verdict by the Food and Drug Administration on pixantrone. Cell Therapeutics failed to meet its own clinical trial guidelines with the drug, but won approval to resubmit its study without running a new or additional study.

Although it's difficult to assume that the FDA will vote any differently this time around, the sheer possibility that the results could be different this time around has shareholders and Cell Therapeutics management jazzed. Having lost 99.98% of its value over the past decade, any sort of good news would propel the stock higher. If approved, pixantrone would likely be rolled out in the U.S. within months and the company could potentially even find a buyer for the drug.

As a noted bear on Cell Therapeutics, I would normally point out here how the company has no marketable drugs and an accumulated deficit of $1.7 billion since inception. I'd also usually point out that the company is notorious for diluting shareholder value by completing secondary share offerings with some regularity. But I'm not going to do that this time around ...

I'm actually going to take the "what if pixantrone gets approved" approach. Even if pixantrone pulls a rabbit out of its hat and gets by the FDA, it's going to be met by a slew of competitors including Rituxan, which is co-owned by Biogen Idec (NAS: BIIB) and Roche (OTC: RHHBY); Campath, offered by Sanofi (NYS: SNY) ; and Treanda, which is owned by Teva Pharmaceuticals (NAS: TEVA) . These companies have far deeper pocketbooks than CTI has, and their feet are deeply entrenched in this sector of cancer treatment. Investors in these companies should not feel overly threatened by a new underfunded player in the space, but it is important to always keep an eye on potentially disruptive competition.

If you're holding Cell Therapeutics' stock, clearly everything is riding on the FDA's decision. If you've been holding for a long time, clearly you don't have much to lose. If you recently bought in, however, you're weighing another FDA failure versus what could be a bargain-basement price if pixantrone is approved.

And now for my take ...

The verdict
I think it's finally time for the FDA to take the remaining 0.02% that Cell Therapeutics has left. Fool biotech hound Brian Orelli has done some fantastic reconnaissance work on Cell Therapeutics for years and I agree with him wholeheartedly that there's probably not a miracle up the company's sleeve heading into its FDA decision on pixantrone in April. I remain steadfast in my thinking that Cell Therapeutics will not survive and I will maintain a CAPScall of underperform on the stock throughout 2012.

What's your take on Cell Therapeutics? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and consider adding Cell Therapeutics to your free and personalized Watchlist so you can keep track of the latest news with the company.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorSean Williamshas no material interest in any other companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen nameTMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen nameTrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle@TMFUltraLong. The Motley Fool owns shares of Teva Pharmaceutical.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Teva Pharmaceutical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policythat always puts its readers first.

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