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Feuerstein's Biotech-Stock Mailbag

It's Saturday, so time for another Biotech Mailbag. As always, send your rants and raves here .

Several readers have inquired about Novacea (NOVC) and its drug Asentar. Judging by the anguished tone of their emails, I get the sense that many bought the stock after it nearly doubled overnight to $15 on May 30. The big move was triggered by a very nice Asentar partnership signed between Novacea and Schering-Plough (SGP).

Unfortunately, the stock hasn't been able to sustain the momentum. One month later, it has dropped more than 30%, all the way back down to around $10.

I missed a chance to write about Novacea before the Schering-Plough deal, so I can't say I'm unhappy about the stock's retrenchment. I believe Asentar is a compelling drug for the treatment of prostate cancer, on the basis of the data generated to date. The Schering-Plough partnership is a big positive, and management deserves kudos for promising a deal and then actually delivering one (the latter accomplishment being something sorely lacking in biotech circles).

But (and yes, there is always a "but") the next big event for Novacea is going to be data from its ongoing pivotal phase III trial of Asentar. That's not expected before the end of 2008 -- a long time from now.

That's a big reason behind the pullback in the stock. (I also believe momentum investors went a bit crazy on May 15, too.) For those who already own Novacea, patience will be required. For those who are not yet in the stock, it deserves another look, because the risk/reward is compelling.

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