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Is biotech topping out? Markets shrugs at big week of IPOs

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange.
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Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange.

Are biotech stocks topping out? I don't know, but I'm getting suspicious. First, the biotech ETFs (IBB, XBI) topped out at the end of April.

But that isn't the only warning sign. What's bugging me is the biotech IPO market has just gone to hell this week.

I know, that's a strong claim, but look what has happened with these biotechs, all of which went public this week:

1) OpGen, was set to price in a range from $8-$10, priced at $6 (!), now trading at $4.66.

2) CoLucid (CLCD), set to priced in a range of $13-$15, priced at $10 (!), trading at $8.19.

3) Adaptimmune Therapeutics, set to price in a range of $15-$17, priced at $17 and was trading below $16 this morning before rising in the late afternoon.

4) Collegium Pharma, price talk $12-$14, priced at $12, trading at $12.30

5) HTG Molecular Diagnostics , price talk $13-$15, priced at $14, was trading at $13 this morning before rising later in the afternoon.

6) TYR PHarma priced at the midpoint of $14, now trading at $14.61. But a measly 4 percent rise is practically a shrug.

Ugh. The market is saying that it doesn't want a lot of biotechs at the moment.

Wait, it gets worse. Several others were scheduled to price earlier this week and have not yet made it to market: Gelesis (GLSS) and MultiVir (MVIR). Not sure what will happen with them.

Another—KLOX Technologies (KLOX)—was postponed.

Another, Anterios (ANTE), is scheduled to price tonight, seeking to raise 3.9 million shares at $12-$14.

Is this the start of a new phase of investor skittishness? They do seem to be resisting the urge to buy companies that don't have much in the way of revenues and earnings, but I doubt this is the start of another biotech debacle. For the most part, these companies have real science and real big pharma companies behind them.

Unfortunately, the owners may have inflated ideas of the valuation.

Come to think of it, the IPO market in general isn't as hot as it used to be. The Renaissance Capital IPO ETF (IPO), a basket of the last 60 or so IPOs, hit an historic high at the end of April and is down about 4 percent since then.

This all makes me long for a simple, understandable IPO, and we are getting it: Bojangles (BOJA), the southern restaurant chain, is pricing tonight, and there is interest: originally pricing between $15 and $17, now $18-$19.

And we have Fitbit also announcing it will price on the NYSE.


  • Bob Pisani

    A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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