Aviragen Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:AVIR) witnessed a spike in stock price this week on the heals of some promising news. (This was much needed to say the least). Those who follow AVIR will remember in February they announced the top-line data from its Phase 2b double-blind, study of severe asthmatics. The drug candidate Vapendavir did not demonstrate a statistically significant reduction in the asthma control questionnaire at day 14 compared to placebo. So this critical Phase2b metric missed the mark, and the stock tumbled. When this hit the wire, the stock dropped 50% from $1.20 to .60 cents.
Have a look at the chart below which shows the sharp decline in prices, and also note the bounce happening in June, and the potential turn in progress. This is a classic case of shorts covering and new buyers chasing the stock, add a few speculators, and you get a nice mix of buying.
Back in February Aviragen Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:AVIR) had this to say about the fail Phase 2b, “We are disappointed that the SPIRITUS trial did not meet its primary endpoint in this patient population. There was evidence of an antiviral effect in patients that received vapendavir within the first day following the onset of their symptoms, and as such, we plan to take time to fully analyze the data before making a decision on whether to initiate a study in hematopoietic stem cell transplant patients, where the ability to stop the progression of the RV infection could be beneficial,” stated Joseph Patti, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aviragen. “We are sincerely grateful for the patients, investigators and staff that participated in the trial.”
The Phase 2b SPIRITUS clinical trial of vapendavir was conducted at approximately 68 sites in North America and Europe. Patients aged 18-70 years that had an established history of moderate-to-severe asthma and a history of losing asthma control as a result of an upper respiratory tract infection were eligible for enrollment. The intent-to-treat (ITT) patient population consisted of 455 randomized patients and from this group there were 168 laboratory-confirmed HRV-infected patients (ITT-infected; ITT-I).
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The company made an important point, that they do not have a defined timeline for the exploration of strategic alternatives and is not confirming that the process will result in any strategic alternative being announced or consummated. Aviragen Therapeutics does not intend to discuss or disclose further developments during this process unless and until its Board of Directors has approved a specific action or otherwise determined that further disclosure is appropriate. The lack of clarity here kept pressure on shares until recently, and one can only think some good news must be afoot. Markets move long before news.
Through all of the selling over the last few months shares made new lows at .43 cents, and over recent weeks has shown signs of bottoming. This is mainly evidenced by the rally late this week, and the volume attached. On most days this stock will trade 100,000 shares, but it traded near 4 million on Thursday, so it looks like the shorts are covering, combined with new buying. Thursday’s 25% rally gets back some of the lost market cap.
The bottom line: Aviragen Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVIR) is one to watch in this specialized Phase 2b study, and has three Phase 2 clinical stage compounds: vapendavir, a capsid inhibitor for the prevention or treatment of rhinovirus upper respiratory infections; a fusion protein inhibitor in development for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus infections; and an antiviral treatment for condyloma caused by human papillomavirus types 6 & 11. The Company also receives royalties from marketed influenza products, Relenza® and Inavir®. These seem complicated when you start to break down the science, but we try to simplify these complicated stocks by watching a few simple changes in volume and price. For continuing coverage on shares of AVIR stock, as well as our other breakout picks, sign up for our free newsletter today and get our next hot stock pick!