Crusade for biotech transparency

Stock moving information kept behind doors
Stock moving information kept behind doors   

Thousands of investors, analysts and executives will descend on San Francisco's Union Square next week for the annual JPMorgan Health Care Conference, the industry's biggest event of the year. More than 400 companies will make presentations to rooms packed with attendees.

Then executives often head to smaller rooms for "breakout sessions," where investors and analysts can ask questions.

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People who don't attend the conference can usually tune in to the main presentations through webcasts. But the breakouts? That's a different story. And it can be in those less formal settings that executives get more interestingeven, in some cases, cause stocks to move.

Biotech investor Brad Loncar is on a mission to persuade every presenting company to also webcast its breakout session. He said he's made some progress, but still has a way to go.

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"I think this is an awareness issue," Loncar said in an interview on Thursday's "Street Signs." "For the last few weeks, I've been contacting these companies and asking them if they would elect to webcast theirs, and a lot of the responses that I'm getting back is that they're not aware this is even an option."

JPMorgan offers webcast through a third-party provider: It costs $1,000.

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"I think people are smart," Loncar said. "A lot of people out there are just as smart as the people who are in the room. All day long I talk with doctors and academic researchers and mom and pops … who spend a lot of time educating themselves on this and learning these things, and I don't think they should be shut out of the process just because they're not a large client of a specific bank."

Loncar and TheStreet.com biotech columnist Adam Feuerstein have published lists of companies who are webcasting their breakout sessions. Loncar's list is here.

"I think the best route to go always is just to put the information out there and let people educate themselves," Loncar said.

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Update: CNBC contacted several companies to ask whether they planned to webcast their breakouts, and if not, why. MannKind said that only about a quarter of the companies at JPMorgan do so.

"We have never considered it necessary since we are careful not to give out any non-public information at the breakout," MannKind Chief Financial Officer Matt Pfeffer said in an emailed statement.