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Biotech Stock Mailbag: Amarin, Spectrum, Arena

Updated with additional information on Spectrum Pharmaceuticals (second item.)

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Happy new year! The Biotech Stock Mailbag enters its sixth year. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Before I get to your emails and tweets, a housekeeping item: I'm holding a special biotech stock live chat on Monday, Jan. 9, at 7:30 p.m. ET. [Note the evening time slot.] I'll be in San Francisco all next week reporting from the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference so I hope to share with you some of the good, insidery-type stuff I learn at the biotech investors' meeting. Please join me and bring your biotech investing questions. Here's a preview of the J.P. Morgan conference.

Via Twitter, @mikeyc2113 asks, "Do you buy Amarin (AMRN) here?"

I never offer specific investment advice but let me tell you about a conversation I had this week with a health-care hedge fund manager -- a biotech investing pro who I've known and trusted for a long time. This investor is even more cynical than I am. He loves to short biotech stocks, so I took special notice when he told me that he just started buying Amarin.

On Tuesday night, Amarin announced a debt offering of $150 million. Before the Wednesday open, my investor friend dumped his brand new $500,000 position in Amarin.

This fund manager started buying Amarin because his research made him comfortable that the FDA would ultimately grant New Chemical Entity (NCE) to the lipid-lowering drug AMR101. He also believed Amarin would eventually win longer intellectual patent protection for AMR101, which makes it a potential billion-dollar blockbuster (if marketed by a competent Big Pharma partner).

Amarin doesn't need to raise more money before AMR101's approval decision date so when the company announced this debt offering Tuesday, my fund manager source drew up the following hypothesis to explain the deal:

1. Amarin's management team is so delusional and stupid to actually think they could achieve, through marketing themselves, anything more than a small fraction of the annual sales and market penetration that a large pharmaceutical company could.

2. Management, in their heart of hearts, realize No. 1, so the convertible offering represents a blatant misunderstanding of the financial markets and disregard for shareholder value. The debt offering is effectively a secondary at $8.81 per share if things go well with the downside of debt if things go poorly -- all merely as a hedge on the chance that they actually end up pursuing No. 1.
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