The Huckman Indicator
We can’t all be experts at everything, which is why we have people who are experts at something. Having said that, I’ll let you in on one of my little secrets -- how to tell when a pharmaceutical story has significance.
I call it the Huckman Indicator: If I see our pharmaceuticals reporter Mike Huckman running through the halls at a high rate of speed, I’ll know that whatever drug-related headline just moved is likely to be important.
And if he’s running towards the Breaking News desk, we move closer to the CNBC version of Defcon 1.
That happened Tuesday, when a judge ruled that a patent held by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi-Aventis on their Plavix drug was valid. I was nearly derailed by the Hucky Express when this story broke -- and when I got back to my feet, I saw he was right: both stocks rose.
However, generic drugmaker Apotex, which had challenged the patent so it could make its own version, has now said it will appeal. When the next ruling comes, I’ll be sure to look both ways before crossing the newsroom.
Often it pays to take a second look at a seemingly innocuous headline.
We saw one cross early this morning: Online travel services company Expedia was buying back stock. This usually grabs our attention for a moment -- we see how big it is, and whether it’s affecting the stock.
Since the initial Expedia headline didn’t have much detail, we didn’t think it would be that big a deal -- until we saw the stock jump about 15%. Upon getting a chance to read the news release, we saw that Expedia was buying back $3.5 billion dollars in stock, and that the buyback represented more than a third of the company’s outstanding shares.
Expedia didn’t elaborate on its reasons, but the effect was clear: a big jump in the price of the stock.
And that’s why we read everything very carefully.