Adam Feuerstein's 2014 Biotech Stock Report Card (No Grading on a Curve)

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- It's report card time. I've been going back over a year's worth of biotech columns to assess my hits and misses for 2014.

Contradicting my reputation as a single-minded biotech stock "basher," I did well with bullish calls this year.

My prediction for a positive outcome from the traffic/transport studies of Vertex Pharma's (VRTX) cystic fibrosis combination therapy: Nailed. My subsequent explanation for why Vertex could still be considered undervalued. Correct.

I preached patience and faith in Chelsea Therapeutics' ability to convince an FDA advisory panel to recommend the approval of Northera. Sure enough, Chelsea got the positive vote it sought as the FDA approved Northera and then Chelsea was acquired by Lundbeck. Home run.

It was a very good year to be bullish on InterMune and its idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug Esbriet. I was!

Last January, I was asked to predict which stock -- Exelixis (EXEL) or Ariad Pharma (ARIA) -- would perform better in 2014. I picked Exelixis. Wrong choice.

EXEL Chart

To be fair (to me), taking a bearish stance on Ariad in 2014 was a good call, particularly when nonsensical takeout rumors caused shares to rise and the company's valuation to bloat.

I chose to flip bullish on Amarin (AMRN) in 2014. Unwise.

MannKind (MNKD) was definitely one of the more controversial and volatile stocks in 2014. My calls were mixed.

Last January, I gave MannKind's Afrezza 60-40 odds of being rejected by the FDA based on my call that the advisory panel would vote against the inhaled insulin device. I was wrong. The panel voted to recommend Afrezza's approval, and the FDA followed suit.

MannKind bulls won the Afrezza approval battle but bears are winning the more important war over the company's stock price. The market value of MannKind is down -- way down -- since Afrezza's approval at the end of June. As I warned readers correctly, MannKind's balance sheet was (and still is) a ticking time bomb. Even the marketing partnership with Sanofi was no panacea.

MNKD Chart

I've long derided Avanir Pharma (AVNR) for selling reformulated cough syrup, but I ended the year laughing and crying when Otsuka bought the company for $3.5 billion. Avanir was one of the top-performing bio-pharma stocks of the year. Kick me.

Still bearish on Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) and its mediocre, commercially flopping weight-loss drug Belviq in 2014. Correct, of course.

I rightly called B.S. on Prana Biotech (PRAN) for trying to spin its failed Huntington's and Alzheimer's clinical trials.

Galena Biopharma (GALE) was best small-cap biotech blow-up of the year. Everyone giggled at the unfolding DreamTeam Group stock-touting scandal, unless you were one of the unfortunate shareholders/bagholders who didn't heed my many warnings.

I've been bullish on Exact Sciences (EXAS) for many years, so it was gratifying to see Cologuard approved this year and receive optimal pricing reimbursement from Medicare.

Remember the bursting of the biotech stock bubble last March? Hmm, perhaps I jumped on that bandwagon with too much vigor.

^NBI Chart

Incompletes in 2014: Keryx Pharma  (KERX) , Northwest Biotherapeutics  (NWBO) , EnteroMedics  (ETRM) and Rockwell Medical RMTI

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.

More from Stocks

3 Things Investors Must Know for Monday

3 Things Investors Must Know for Monday

Street Stats: The Mid-Term Elections May Be a Rollercoaster Ride for Investors

Street Stats: The Mid-Term Elections May Be a Rollercoaster Ride for Investors

What You Need to Know About Facebook and Europe's New Privacy Rules

What You Need to Know About Facebook and Europe's New Privacy Rules

8 Bold Moves General Motors Could Make to Rev Up Its Battered Stock Price

8 Bold Moves General Motors Could Make to Rev Up Its Battered Stock Price

Is Your Investment Portfolio Prepared for Trade Wars, Inflation and More Trump?

Is Your Investment Portfolio Prepared for Trade Wars, Inflation and More Trump?