Fried-Day (And I Do Mean It!)
line for nearly 10 years, but biotechs are back, investors are tripping over themselves to buy them and I have a job to do.
With that in mind, not every company that is rising with the biotech tide is really a biotech company. Take
. It was up 24% yesterday, but has been rising since a story in the Feb. 21 issue of
said it's likely to get
, which -- if approved -- will be used to help prevent precancerous cells that lead to colon cancer.
First, it's not a biotech drug; it's the derivative of a drug that has existed for decades. (But, hey, but do you really think most of today's biotech investors know the difference between a genome and fenome?) And who is to say it will be approved? Stephen Sabba, a physician who is also research chief at
Sturza's Institutional Research
in New York, says, "I don't believe it will be approved, and even if it were, it's such a tiny niche indication."
Indeed, the size of the market is believed to be less than 14,000 patients who will each spend $2,500 a year on the drug. That would be $35 mil in rev for a company that, as of Thursday, had a market cap of about $1.5 billion. However, that would be generous considering that
was recently cleared by the FDA to use a rival drug,
, to treat the same condition. (This is a new application for what many know as an arthritis drug.)
Cell Pathways Chief Counsel Richard Troy wouldn't discuss the market potential, but he did say that the company hopes the drug eventually will win approval for other ailments.
That's what they always say. Easier said than done.
Speaking of biotech:
Veteran biotech watcher Jim McCamant of the
Medical Technology Stock Letter
(who actually believes Cell Pathways could get approval for its drug) says it's only one of many stocks that could be considered overvalued. But then again, he points out, some Internet stocks rose 10 times before they got whacked. "We're starting to see the same thing in biotech," he says. "But there will be a sharp correction along the way. I'm scared," he adds, "because it has never been this easy to make money before."
This is it for the regular column for a few days. Vay-kay time. See ya in a week. Meanwhile, later today look for the second in what I hope will be a series of
"Tips for the Timid" on how to spot trouble before it occurs -- this time culled from readers.
Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.
Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.