Inovio Soars as Reddit Crowd Takes Notice, BlackRock Boosts Stake

Inovio soars Tuesday as retail investors take aim at the drugs industry.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals  (INO) - Get Report soared Tuesday as retail investors rallied on the online messaging platform Reddit and took aim at the drug industry.

Shares of the Plymouth Meeting, Penn., company were climbing 12% to $19 in premarket trading. The stock had finished up 33% on Monday.

Inovio also got a boost after New York money manager BlackRock  (BLK) - Get Report increased its stake in the company. BlackRock now owns more than 14.2 million shares of Inovio stock, or 8.4% of the company, according to a regulatory filing.

"INOVIO NEEDS US!!," a Reddit post announced. "Spread the word. This is a battle against corruption in the FDA, Big Pharma and SHORTS!"

Inovio said in December that its Covid-19 vaccine was in Phase 2 clinical trials. The Reddit post charged that Inovio's "DNA science is cost efficient, safe and effective."

"Their success going to cost big pharma BILLIONS so they’re not going to let Inovio succeed," the post alleged. "In covid 19’s case, Inovio went from the FIRST biotech to design a vaccine construct to the last company struggling to keep up due to lack of funding, support, and a lot of FDA DELAYS."

A poster on the Reddit forum called Inovio the "Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Report of pharmaceuticals."

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Jeff Richard, Inovio vice president, said in an email that the company "remains focused on our top priority – bringing DNA medicines to people in need."

Biotechs with little to no revenue have long been the focus of short bets on Wall Street and could emerge as a new focal point for small-time investors railing against elite hedge funds, according to Bloomberg.

Other biotechs, such as BioCryst Pharmaceuticals  (BCRX) - Get Report and Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Report, also saw their shares rise dramatically.

Investors on Reddit have recently driven up the share prices of such companies as GameStop  (GME) - Get Report, BlackBerry  (BB) - Get Report and AMC Entertainment  (AMC) - Get Report

Earlier this month, Inovio unveiled a public offering of $150 million, consisting of  17.7 million shares at $8.50 each.