The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 102 points, starting off the week on the wrong foot as European fiscal concerns and further proof of a Chinese economy cooling off worried everyone from the start. But with the companies below going down hard, first let's see whether they had good reason to drop. Sometimes, panic-fueled declines can make excellent buying opportunities.
You've made your bed, now lie in it
Certain areas of medical research are almost faddish in the way biotechs and drugmakers swarm into them. A few years ago, cancer research was the hot funding area; these days it's hepatitis C as companies suddenly piled into the niche at the end of last year. Roche bought Anadys, Gilead Sciences (NAS: GILD) purchased Pharmasset, and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYS: BMY) bought Inhibitex. Suddenly everyone wanted in on the hep C market.
Achillion Pharmaceuticals (NAS: ACHN) has been rather quietly working toward a hep C solution of its own, but got upended when Gilead stole some thunder reporting the complete elimination of the virus in 12 weeks in 88% of its patients with its therapy GS-7977 and even better results when it was paired up with Bristol's daclatasvir. While Achillion noted yesterday that its own treatment eliminated the virus in up to 100% of the patients, it had to clarify data showing it took twice as long to reach the same endpoint. Still, the perception remains that Gilead is the one to beat here.
Wall Street, which had been unanimous in its opinion of Achillion beating the market, is now rewriting its outlook on the shares, with JPMorgan Securities downgrading the biotech to a "market perform" from an "outperform" rating.
While three-quarters of the CAPS community members rating Achillion think it will still outperform, I wonder whether some larger pharma might not just come along and scoop it up anyway. Its treatment is obviously effective, so someone might be interested in building on that success. With shares now trading at almost half the value of their recent highs, it might be an attractive takeover candidate, so I'm going to rate the biotech to outperform from here.
Add Achillion to your watchlist then tell us on the Achillion Pharmaceuticals CAPS page whether the hep C market is still hot enough to tempt someone to buy the company outright.
Projecting a poor image
There was a time when I thought Microvision (NAS: MVIS) was the coolest up-and-coming company with a really neat microprojector. Its PicoP technology has the potential to transform humble smartphones into futuristic devices out of the Tom Cruise Minority Report movie as well as make video games completely immersive. Unfortunately, where there was once talk about when a microprojector would appear in an iPhone or iPad, these days it's more about whether Microvision will survive to see the introduction of its technology in some Pioneer consumer product.
Microvision has been flogging the deal with the electronics gadgets company for over a year and reported yesterday that a product is due out later this year. Yet while sales were up in the quarter, losses aren't getting any smaller, and the company recently had to affect a reverse split to stay listed on the exchanges. It's hoping the next-generation display engine technology gets it the recognition -- and the revenues -- it needs. But in a competitive landscape where it faces well-financed rivals like Texas Instruments (NAS: TXN) , which sells an iPhone accessory, it's quickly losing out on opportunity.
Acer unveiled its pico projector earlier this year and it's now on the market; Samsung's Galaxy Beam is likely to be the first smartphone with an international market that features its own built-in pico projector.
I can't see Microvision overcoming the obstacles before it, and its best bet is probably a buyout too. I've rated the projector maker with a pico-sized underperform rating on CAPS, but tell me in the comments section below or on the Microvision CAPS page if you think it's still got an outsize opportunity, then add the stock to the Fool's free portfolio tracker to be alerted if anything pops up on the screen.
Ready for a resurrection
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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorRich Dupreyholds no position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see his holdings and a short bio.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Gilead Sciences. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.