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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Vivus

On a related note, "AllStarPitcher" sent me this love note right after the Arena panel last week:

"Hey pal, did you just blow in from stupidville? It's rather ammusing [sic] how your company is a [sic] considered a penny stock and yet you critique companies that actually have growth opportunities. I'm assuming its [sic] because you were taunted as a child, which probably explains why you responded to all the angry emails from everyone. Well anyways, just wanted to say grow up child."

I received a lot of negative pushback (mostly from Arena shareholders, I assume) for the healthcare buyside investor poll I conducted about lorcaserin's chances at the FDA advisory panel meeting. (75% of the survey's respondents predicted -- accurately, it turns out -- that the panel would reject lorcaserin.)

Reg M.'s email was typical of the criticism I received.

"I'm curious as to why you would poll hedge fund managers as opposed to medical physicians. Wouldn't that be more relevant information? Hedge fund managers most likely are biased as they could have a binary position in Arena while doctors would not. Also, it would be helpful to know why you thought it would be helpful to do this at this time."

My periodic buy-side polls are meant to provide readers (mainly retail investors) with a snapshot of what Wall Street pros are thinking about a particular stock or subject. The poll isn't scientifically conducted. I don't expect readers to take the poll's findings as absolute truth. It's just a way for me broadly and quickly canvas buyside investors (yes, mainly biotech hedge funds) that I speak with on a regular basis as part of my job. Understanding their sentiment on Arena was interesting to me and I hope to you as well.

Are my hedge fund sources biased? Depends on the definition. It's not helpful to me (or you) if my survey respondents have no opinion or position in the stock being surveyed. Hedge funds are in business to make money for their investors. If a hedge fund manager thinks Arena is going to get dinged and takes a short position in the stock as a result, that's bias, but it's bias that another investor also interested in Arena should want to know about.

A poll of doctors might be helpful but doctors, in my experience, tend to be lousy investors. (Sorry docs, but I've talked to too many of you who know a lot about medicine but really don't understand how stocks work.)

Biotech and biotech investing aren't necessarily the same.

--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Adam Feuerstein.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:
Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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