The Genentech Roller Coaster


On my Thomson Reuters screen on the computer monitor opposite the one I'm using to write this blogpost I have the stock quotes of a few dozen of the biopharma companies I cover. Lately, when I glance over at it, there's been a lot of red. With today's market rally, there's a whole lotta green. And that's why the quote in red for Genentech kind of sticks out like a sore thumb.

On a day when the broader market is off to the races, shares of DNA are a loser. Around this time yesterday afternoon, The Wall Street Journal put out a story quoting unnamed sources that Genentech and Roche were close to a $95-a-share deal and that it could be announced as soon as the closing bell on Monday. The article also pointed out that the agreement could still fall apart. Nonetheless, the stock spiked. But the closing bell came and went with no news as I manned my battle station at the "CNBC Alerts Desk" just in case. So, when I turned on my BlackBerry this morning I was almost certain there'd be a press release from Roche and/or Genentech declaring an end to the war. Nuthin'.

And it looks like investors might be a little nervous that no news isn't good news. Yesterday, a Genentech spokesman told me the company doesn't comment on speculation and it wasn't going to say anything beyond the statement it put out last Friday after Roche upped its bid to 93 bucks a share. And when I got this email from a Roche spokeswoman late yesterday afternoon I thought it was a little more telling and curious: "Last Friday, Roche announced a very attractive tender offer of $93 per share. It is now up to the Genentech shareholders to decide on the offer." Hmm. This as the WSJ was saying the companies were close to agreeing on $95.

The only difference I noticed in the Roche statement is that it is now characterizing its offer as "very attractive" versus the "very fair" it used to describe its previous bid of $86.50 a share.

If $93 is "very attractive," what would $95 be?

Questions? Comments?