TheStreet) -- I warned last month about
Wall Street being hostile to
(AMRN) launching the prescription fish-oil pill Vascepa on its own.
Wedbush analyst Akiva Felt today:
We are downgrading shares of Amarin from Outperfrom to Neutral as we view the risk/reward to be less favorable now that October is underway. In sum, the downgrade is based on our view that:
1) The absence of a deal by now suggests that any potential acquisition premium is unlikey to meet the Street's lofty expectations.
2) A potential near-term announcement that Amarin has begun hiring a sales force for Vascepa represents a concrete negative catalyst, which management previously guided would occur in October (in the absence of a deal.)
3) Given the continued vacuum of information surrounding the status of Amarin's negotiations, we believe shares will trend lower as time passes in October as investors grow incrementally more fearful that a deal may fail to materialize.
Well said, Akiva. He's come around to my
"If Amarin fails to gain NCE
New Chemical Entity
status, the odds increase that the company is forced to launch Vascepa on its own, without a major pharmaceutical partner or a buyer of the entire company. Wall Street investors aren't going to like a solo Vascepa launch at all."
Felt, again, from today's downgrade:
"In sum, if big pharma (collectively) does indeed view Amarin to be a high-priority acquisition target as we previously hypothesized, we believe a bidder willing to forego definitive resolution on the remaining uncertainties like NCE would step forward and offer a price inline with Street expectations. However, we believe such a transaction would most likely have occurred by now, and by mid-October at the latest."
As the days click by, an Amarin takeout, if one were to occur, is more likely to be priced in the $15-20 per share range and not the $25-30 per share range that Amarin bulls expect, Felt adds.
Amarin shares are down 5% to $11.76 in Wednesday trading.
-- Reported by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.