Acadia's shares jumped 5% at midday before slipping back a bit. Shares were up 2.5% to $36.12 at 1:30 pm. ET.
While the rumors that Astrazeneca is the buyer are likely untrue , Acadia is a likely target for takeover in the biotech space, and has been seen as one since April 2016. Biotechs with assets in the neurodegenerative space are valuable - those with drugs already being sold are worth even more.
And staffing changes back in August make takeout rumors even more believable. That month Acadia tapped experience dealmaker and industry veteran Todd S. Young as CFO and executive vice president.
"It's a logical target for a company that was looking to bolster its neurology franchise," analyst Ritu Baral of Cowen & Co. said by phone Friday. "M&A strategy has been a frequent topic of discussion of investors for a number of years, ever since positive phase 3 data."
Acadia released positive phase 3 data on Nuplazid, which is now being sold to treat hallucinations and delusions caused by Alzheimer's disease in June 2015. The company is researching another drug, Pimavanserin, for treatment of schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease psychosis and agitation and major depressive disorder.
What's not quite so logical? Astrazeneca as a potential buyer for the company. Astrazeneca officials said by phone Friday the company does not comment on rumors.
Interestingly, the pharmaceutical firm lists neuroscience as an area of interest on its website, calling its pipeline "robust." But Astrazeneca has just one drug for neuroscience disease in its pipeline, AZD3293, which is being developed for patients with Alzheimer's disease. It's currently in phase 2 clinical trial development.
A source noted that Johnson & Johnson(JNJ) - Get Report , Allergan(AGN) - Get Report or Teva(TEVA) - Get Report make more sense as buyers. Biogen(BIIB) - Get Report was also previously identified by The Deal, TheStreet's sister publication, as a logical buyer.
Whatever company decides to buy Acadia, it likely won't be done any time soon. "Acadia needs more post market safety evidence," analyst Michael Higgins of Roth Capital said by phone Friday. "It's a rare gem in the space because it's a neuro product."
As for the share pop Friday, "Rumors are just rumors," Higgins said by phone. "I don't think we have enough safety evidence at this point for major pharma to pay a premium to its valuation."
Acadia's market value Friday was $4.33 billion.
Acadia could not be reached for comment on Friday.