Pharmacyclics, Acacia Research, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Novartis and Roche highlighted as Zacks Bull and Bear of the Day

Oct 31, 2013, 09:30 ET from Zacks Investment Research, Inc.

CHICAGO, Oct. 31, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks Equity Research highlights Pharmacyclics (Nasdaq: PCYC-Free Report)as the Bull of the Day and Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG-Free Report) as the Bear of the Day. In addition, Zacks Equity Research provides analysis ontheAlnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY-Free Report), Novartis (NYSE: NVS-Free Report) and Roche (OTC:RHHBY-Free Report).


Here is a synopsis of all five stocks:

Bull of the Day:

Pharmacyclics (Nasdaq: PCYC-Free Report) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering and developing small-molecule drugs for oncology and autoimmune diseases. PCYC's primary drug candidate is ibrutinib, the first in class of a new wave of oral agents ready to transform the treatment of white blood cell, or B-cell, malignancies.

Almost all hematological cancers (involving the blood) arise from white blood cells including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.

Current treatments for blood cancers include Genentech's Rituxan, which is now owned by Biogen Idec, and Celgene's Revlimid. These drugs both achieved "blockbuster" status with sales in the billions of dollars. Analysts believe that PCYC's ibrutinib has the same or greater potential because it could surpass those drugs in terms of efficacy and safety. And it doesn't hurt that Johnson & Johnson is a partner.

PCYC shares have more than doubled this year, from $60 to over $140 in early October. In July, Pharmacyclics submitted its New Drug Application (NDA) for ibrutinib and by September began presenting positive data surrounding ibrutinib's market potential and pipeline strategy including the development of the next-generation BTK inhibitor for autoimmune disease.

Bear of the Day:

Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG-Free Report) develops, acquires, and licenses patented technologies. It assists patent owners with the prosecution and development of their patent portfolios, protection of their patented inventions from unauthorized use, generation of licensing revenue from users of their patented technologies and enforcement against unauthorized users of their patented technologies.

The company seemed over the past few years to be building an impressive portfolio of patents to license. In fact, I traded the stock in 2012 after I saw George Soros was a shareholder. But underneath the surface is an unpredictable revenue stream built on lawsuits and it's no wonder the company doesn't give guidance.

Since a quarterly revenue peak of $99 million in early 2012, the company and the stock have been sliding. And dozens of weeks in the past two years where the stock was either a Zacks #4 Rank (Sell) or #5 Rank (Strong Sell) have kept our followers out of the name.

One of the risks with small caps in the Zacks universe is that the analyst coverage can be low, sometimes with only one covering analyst providing estimates, as was the case with Acacia. Obviously, the more analysts, the better idea you have of how reliable the estimates could be and where in the dispersion you want to put your confidence.

But in the case of ACTG, anyone holding the stock got the heads-up right away from this lonely analyst who lowered his Q3 EPS estimate from 40-cents to 7-cents on October 14. The next day, the Zacks Rank from ACTG dropped from #3 (Hold) to #5 (Strong Sell) because of the magnitude of this downward revision.

Additional content:

Pipeline Progress at Alnylam

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALNY-Free Report) filed a Clinical Trial Application (CTA) with the U.K. Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for ALN-AT3. Alnylam intends to initiate a phase I study on ALN-AT3 for the treatment of hemophilia, including people with inhibitors, in early 2014.

ALN-AT3 is a subcutaneously administered ribo nucleic acid interference (RNAi) therapeutic, which targets antithrombin (AT). The phase I study on ALN-AT3, to be conducted in the U.K., will be a single- and multi-dose, dose-escalation study consisting of two parts. The initial part of the study will be a randomized, single-blind, placebo-controlled, single-dose, (n=24) and will be primarily evaluating the safety and tolerability of a single dose of ALN-AT3.

The latter part of the study will be an open-label, multi-dose, dose-escalation study (n=18) in patients suffering from moderate to severe hemophilia A or B. This part of the study will primarily assess the safety and tolerability of multiple doses of ALN-AT3 in these patients. Alnylam is expecting results from this study by the end of next year.

In Aug 2013, ALN-AT3 was granted orphan drug designation for both hemophilia A and B by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

We note that ALN-AT3 is one of the important programs under "Alnylam 5x15". Alnylam intends to move five RNAi therapeutic programs, including ALN-AT3, into clinical development, including programs in advanced stages by 2015.

Alnylam has progressed well with its pipeline in the past few quarters. Although most of the candidates at Alnylam are in their early-mid stages of development, we expect investor focus to remain on the company's pipeline. Meanwhile, the company's collaboration with companies like Novartis (NYSE: NVS-Free Report) and Roche (OTC:RHHBY-Free Report) for its RNAi therapeutics is also encouraging.

Alnylam presently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

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