Aastrom Implosion Could Have Been Even Worse

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Aastrom Biosciences Inc. (NASDAQ: ASTM) has just joined in on the long list of biotech implosions. Perhaps the only thing that is so surprising after the fact, with a 35% price drop now, is that the stock is not down even more.

The company is getting scalped on news that it is ending its Phase III Revive clinical drug trial in critical limb eschemia, also known as restricted blood supply. Aastrom now intends to focus all of its efforts on the development of ixmyelocel-T for the treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy. The company has previously received an Orphan Drug Designation on the continued effort. An explanation is that it can pursue smaller studies with lower costs to get to the regulatory hurdle.

What else stands out is that Aastrom is cutting roughly half of its workforce. Its loss in the fourth quarter was $6.65 million, and it just appointed a new CEO at the beginning of March. Its research and development costs in the fourth quarter alone were $6 million.

At the earnings release in March the company said:

As of December 31, 2012, the company had $13.6 million in cash and cash equivalents, compared to $5.5 million in cash and cash equivalents at December 31, 2011. For the quarter and year ended December 31, 2012, cash used for operations was $7.3 million and $29.5 million, respectively.

Unfortunately for investors, Aastrom’s market cap is a mere $34 million, according to Yahoo! Finance, and its year-end balance sheet shows a negative stockholder equity and negative net tangible assets of $32.1 million.

Aastrom is down 35% at $0.75 on the day. The new 52-week trading range is $0.70 to $2.72, and the shares have been around since the 1990s and used to trade many many times higher than today’s price. Honestly, the company is lucky that its stock is not down worse.