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Nate Sadeghi's 2012 Biotech Stock Report Card


I initially expressed skepticism on Twitter about the approval prospects for Arena's Belviq, but openly changed my opinion after reading the FDA's briefing documents on May 8th. My first written words about Arena longer than 140 characters correctly projected that Vivus' Qsymia would reach the market first and emphasized my concerns about the drug's long-term commercial prospects. I still have those concerns, and despite the recent rebound, Arena is still down 6% from my initial short recommendation. Given the currently available information, you couldn't drag me away from this short with a pack of Clydesdale horses. Arena shares have a long way to fall.

There's also a popular Internet rumor that I support Vivus, which is untrue. In late May, noting that no obesity drug has ever reached $1 billion in sales, I wrote: "Arena and Vivus might re-write that statistic, but I doubt it will be easy. I think the easy money has been made and investors should look elsewhere." More recently, I explicitly suggested that investors short Vivus: "Although the stock has declined meaningfully as investors have lowered expectations for Qsymia, Vivus is still probably a decent short at current prices" Shares are down more than 20% since that advice.

One final note. No one seemed to care -- it was one of my least read articles -- but I was happy that I nailed the Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act (ACA), often derisively referred to as Obamacare. Although my view didn't lead to any major stock recommendations, upholding the law was the right decision for our country and for our sector. With Obama winning easy re-election to a second term, hopefully we can all get back to picking the winners and losers in this most exciting of sectors.

Overall, I would give myself a B+ this year. I think that's fair. I've had some major wins and a few slip-ups, with the former far outweighing the latter but the mistakes weighing more heavily on my mind. (Humans are notoriously loss averse.) Feel free to provide feedback on how I've done in the comments below. I'm always looking to improve.

Sadeghi has no positions in the stocks mentioned in this column.

Nathan Sadeghi-Nejad has 15 years experience as a professional health-care investor, most recently as a sector head for Highside Capital. He has worked on the sell side (with independent research boutiques Sturza's Medical Research and Avalon Research) and the buyside (at Kilkenny Capital prior to Highside). Sadeghi-Nejad is a graduate of Columbia University and lives in New York. You can follow him on Twitter @natesadeghi.
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