1. Will Biogen buy itself back into investors' good graces?
With $4.5 billion in cash and the ability to double or triple that amount by assuming relatively cheap debt, Biogen has the balance sheet to make acquisitions. Buying quality assets or an entire company is a good way of mending fences with investors. Celgene(CELG) - Get Report, Alexion Pharmaceuticals(ALXN) - Get Report and Abbvie(ABBV) - Get Report have all been rewarded with higher stock prices after making deals this year.
Isis Pharmaceuticals (ISIS) might be the most obvious Biogen takeout target given its existing partnership, but is it the smart move? Biogen is getting dinged lately, in part because investor confidence in its existing late-stage pipeline -- aducanumab and anti-LINGO -- is shaken. But would buying a company such as Isis, with an unproven technology and a track record of developing drugs that don't sell particularly well, serve to assuage Wall Street concerns?
If not Isis, Biogen could try to outbid Celgene for Receptos (RCPT) . Or, Biogen could buy Neurocrine Biosciences(NBIX) - Get Report or Acadia Pharmaceuticals(ACAD) - Get Report. Taking out Sarepta Therapeutics(SRPT) - Get Report or Bluebird Bio(BLUE) - Get Report would certainly get tongues wagging.
2. Does a weakened Biogen become a target?
This is where I get to re-pitch one of my black swan predictions for 2015: Pfizer(PFE) - Get Report buying Biogen and relocating its corporate headquarters from New York to the heart of the biotech universe, Kendall Square, Cambridge, Mass. Such a deal seemed crazy in January but not now, right? J.P. Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov points out that Genzyme, Immunex and Chiron -- all large-cap biotechs at one time -- were acquired by Big Pharma during a period of weakness.
3. Is there anything in Biogen's existing pipeline that investors can get excited about and possibly save the company?
Yes, but nothing in the near term. Results from a Tysabri phase III study in secondary progressive multiple sclerosis are expected before the end of the year, but the odds of positive results are relatively low. A phase II study of the nerve repair drug anti-LINGO in multiple sclerosis are coming in the middle of next year. Biogen is just beginning the phase III study of aducanumab so results aren't likely until the end of 2017 or early 2018. Eisai (with Biogen as a partner) is developing two different Alzheimer's drugs, a BACE inhibitor E2609 and an amyloid-targeted monoclonal antibody BAN2401. Data from ongoing phase II studies could be announced in the first quarter 2016.
4. Did Biogen "kitchen sink" its existing multiple sclerosis franchise?
If you're a Biogen bull or an opportunistic investor eyeing a potential a rebound, you hope management went overboard with the new 2015 guidance of 6-8% revenue growth (from 14-16% and consensus of 13%).
If Tecfidera and the rest of the MS franchise rebounds in the second half of the year, Biogen's stock price could still recover.
Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.