The dreaded disease, Ebola, has captured the imagination and attention of traders and speculators. It has erupted in Africa and has spread quickly, causing 1,000 deaths, and 2,000 new infected cases. There is a dire race to find a cure. To date, no cure is available. This has prompted a search for biotech companies that have started to do research on Ebola.
The symptoms of Ebola are similar to those of cholera and malaria. There is vomiting and diarrhea. Much worse though it causes decreases in liver and kidney functions and bleeding. Two US Aid workers were flown to the United States who contracted the disease. One has since died.
There are but a few companies that have even started research on Ebola. Here we will look at three small start ups that are at various stages of research. Each of these has a small market cap and are termed speculative investments.
Tekmira (TKMR) is a Canadian biotech. It is at stage 1 in clinical trials of their drug with the FDA. Most of the research on Ebola has been done on monkeys. However, with the pressing need to find an immediate cure, the FDA has allowed Tekmira to test their drug on humans.
Tekmira Pharmaceuticals (TKMR) Recent price is $18.08. 52 week high/low is $31.48/$16.04 EPS is -.74 Market Cap is $356 million. (Barchart.com)
Trading has been heavy with 7,522,300 shares traded on Friday. The price has had wild swings with these closes last week. 8/11 $23.64, 8/12 $18.61, 8/13 $18.60, 8/14 $16.50 and 8/15 $18.08.
Biocryst Pharmaceuticals (BCRX). Is working on a drug to treat Marburg. This disease causes a hemorrhage fever like Ebola. The drug is called BCX 4430.
Biocryst (BCRX) Recent price $13.92 52 week/high/low is $14.62/$4.55 EPS is -.62 Market Cap is 975.51 million Volume on 8/15 was 1,257,000 shares traded.
Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) is engaged in research on RNA therapeutics for rare and infectious diseases. Recent earnings showed a loss of $.95 cents per share in the recent quarter compared with a loss of $.50 cents in the year ago quarter.
Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT) Recent price is $22.47 52 week high/low is $55.61/$12.12 EPS is -3.20 Market Cap is $914.08 million.
The highly speculative nature of these stocks has prompted FINRA, the overseer of Over the Counter stocks, to issue a warning concerning possible scams in some of these start up biotech companies. Often speculators will engineer a “pump and dump” operation where they drive up the price of a stock, then sell it near the top, leaving ordinary investors with sharp losses. A recent article in the New York Post advises investors not to believe all the hype and promotional material issued by some of these companies or to blindly follow Penny Stock recommendations. Each investor must do his/her own research, realizing that any purchase of these stocks is highly speculative.
Nevertheless, it might be prudent to follow the Ebola epidemic and track how far it spreads. Investors should only risk a small portion of their portfolio if they decide to buy these stocks.