Looking for the Next Biotech Buyout After Two Drug and Biotech Deals

Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: CBST) used to be one of our top targets, but shares doubled over the past two years. Its $2.6 billion market cap with a $41 share price compares to a 52-week high of $44.95 and a Thomson Reuters consensus target price of $48.80. The success of Cubist and other partnerships helped drive the gains here, but a fresh management shakeup of late may at least rekindle some M&A ambitions from Wall St.

The $2.1 billion Amarin Corporation (NASDAQ: AMRN) has recently backed off its highs of $15.60, and shares are now around $14.60 with a $2 billion market cap. Thomson Reuters has a consensus target price of $22.95 ahead of a decision on its triglycerides treatment under FDA review.

Dendreon Corp. (NASDAQ: DNDN) almost always comes up as a buyout candidate in biotech when Human Genome Sciences was noted as a buyout candidate. The similarities are there, with recent approvals followed by weaker-than-expected drug sales. Perhaps a larger company can make a difference here in making PROVENGE for advanced prostate cancer more widely accepted as its sales have lagged results in late-stage prostate cancer. To show the tie, its shares are up 3.5% initially on the HGSI deal to $6.27. Just keep in mind that its 52-week high is $39.50, so you have to ask yourself how low of a price Dendreon could even accept without being crushed under shareholder lawsuits.

VIVUS Inc. (NASDAQ: VVUS) is expected to be the leader in the weight-loss drug market, but its more than $2.7 billion market capitalization and $27.50 share price that compares to a price target from Wall St. of $31.20. The price premium may be too great already for it to be acquired. Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA), another weight-loss hopeful, is now worth almost $2.1 billion ahead of its 2013 weight loss drug launch.

Pharmacyclics Inc. (NASDAQ: PCYC) has backed off of recent highs north of $60.00 to just under $54.00. Its shares have seen explosive growth from less than $10 over the past year to make it one of 2012’s best biotech stocks. With a value near $3.7 billion and a massive share price gain, it would seem a stretch to say that this is a buyout target. Still, the move speaks for itself as it is supposed to have a large oncology pipeline.

Vical Inc. (NASDAQ: VICL) has surfaced from time to time as a potential buyout candidate, but we have not heard much about it in months and months. Its Allovectin is under Phase III trials for treating malignant melanoma, and its market value is just above $300 million.

Medgenics, Inc. (NYSEMKT: MDGN) is a smaller name that sometimes arises as a possible buyout candidate after a FDA Orphan Drug designation for its Hepatitis treatment. Its market value is only $140 million, and we would note that its shares are down 4% on a day when two M&A deals have been announced.

Piper Jaffray recently named the following companies as possible biotech buyouts, with market values being “as of that time” rather than today: Affymetrix Inc. (NASDAQ: AFFX) with a $317 million market value; BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ: BMRN) with a $4.8 billion market value; Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: RIGL) with a $700 million market value; and Theravance Inc. (NASDAQ: THRX) with a $2.5 billion market value.

This is a list of some of the possible biotech and emerging pharma companies that could come back into play as takeover bait. Just keep in mind that investing in biotech solely for M&A ambitions can be a very painful process. Also, some of these companies may never want to be acquired.

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