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The economic news wasn't all encouraging last week, not from Europe nor from the United States, but the markets didn't mind so much as stocks jumped on both Thursday and Friday and soared to new four year highs. What the markets liked - and grabbed on to for momentum - was that the European Central Bank (ECB) pledged last week to offer stimulus to the European economy by buying up some debt of the most troubled Eurozone countries. The Euro rebounded on that news and the US markets also jumped as investors became increasingly optimistic that the US economic authorities would follow suite and initiate another round of stimulus bond-buying during a two-day meeting this week.
With investors giddy over the stimulus news, Friday's weak jobs report was pretty much shrugged off by the markets. The numbers - which came in at under 100,000 new jobs created, well below the predicted 125,000 - indicated a significant slowing of jobs growth and sparked a new round of political debate with the campaign season in full swing. While investors were not overly concerned with that news, as the sluggish rebound is far from a secret, the average American may have received an education of just how insignificant a number the jobs report - and specifically the unemployment rate - really provides.
Given that those who give up looking for a job are no longer counted in the overall number - and there were a number of other pronounced variables aired over the networks all weekend - it's relatively safe to say that the only landscape in which those numbers play a relevant role is in the political landscape; both parties twisted the jobs report to support whichever argument they were trying to make. The report did, however, support the argument that the Fed was preparing to follow-through on promises earlier this month to provide some more measures of stimulus, and that was enough to keep investors happy.
The mid-week Fed meeting in the United States - which is predicted to decide on policy relating to any new stimulus plans - will dominate investors' attention this week, but many may also be on edge as pundits and analysts are of the belief that the markets have peaked and that a correction could be on the horizon.
September is historically a slow month for the markets anyway and the volatility created by a presidential election is also likely to come into play, so while enjoying the good times while they last is always fun, it may be wise to have a backup plan in effect in case a drop materializes - which often means selling some paper profits now in order to have a little cash on the sidelines in case some nice buying opportunities open up into any protracted dip.
Stimulus and caution may be the words of the week, but there are always sure to be plenty of stocks and stories to keep an eye on. Here's just a few of them...
Healthcare, Biotech, Pharmaceutical:
Amarin Corporation (AMRN): Whether as exciting as the last two weeks or not, it's bound to be another high-profile trading week for shareholders of Amarin Corp. Last week marked the realization of major patent milestones that will ultimately ensure protection of Vascepa until at least 2030 for indications relating to the highly successful MARINE Phase III trial, for which Vascepa recently received an FDA approval. Next up will be the outcome of the FDA's decision to grant Vascepa a new chemical entity (NCE) status, a designation that could again secure additional years of market exclusivity from generic competition and help investors and potential buyers of the company to better gauge the overall value of the product.
It has been highly speculated since Vascepa's approval that the product would warrant an NCE designation and - as was the case following the patent news - AMRN's share price could react accordingly if the status is ultimately granted.
TrovaGene Inc (TROV): Having been labeled as a stock to watch last week because of its previous dip back towards the two dollar mark and the potential of the company's diagnostic pipeline, TrovaGene shares rebounded swiftly last week on modestly-increasing volume and will be worth watching for the coming week, too.
TrovaGene is developing a still-clinical-stage line of diagnostic tests that may be able to effectively detect the presence of various cancer and infectious diseases through simple urine samples. Such a technology, should it be proven effective, could provide significant relief on a global health care system that is currently over-burdened with high costs and highly-intrusive procedures. The current standard of screening for cancer and infectious disease includes biopsy and/or blood tests, both of which come with increased costs and intrusiveness than would a screening via a urine sample.
Sunshine Heart (SSH): Following an explosion in share price earlier this summer that saw shares jump from three to seventeen dollars, shares of Sunshine Heart have settled right around the $7 share price of a recent stock offering, SSH could be primed for another move, however, following a vote of confidence expressed by a popular analyst last week and pending milestone catalysts that could develop over the next few months.
In a report that sent Sunshine shares temporarily back over the seven dollar mark, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity initiated coverage of the company with a 'buy' rating and a price target of eleven dollars. In justifying the new rating, Canaccord cited the encouraging results of the North American feasibility trial for the C-Pulse Heart Assist system, a device that has thus far proven to not only halt the progression of heart failure in patients with Class III and ambulatory Class IV heart failure, but potentially reverse it as well.
Ironwood Pharmaceuticals (IRWD): Ironwood shares have trended lower since the announcement that the FDA approved Linzess - previously known as Linaclotide - for treatment in adults with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) or chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). The drug taps a billion-dollar-plus market, so the possibility does exist that future price increases could be in store, but the lack of any significant move - either to the up or down side - is an indication that investors feel the company is fairly valued and are taking a 'wait and see' approach.
OncoSec Medical Incorporated (ONCS): It was noted during the previous trading week that shares of OncoSec Medical were trading with increased volume, and although the share price has yet to experience other than just a minimal move higher during the volume spike, the trend continued through most of last week, leading some to believe that this may be a period of quiet accumulation between major news updates.
MRI Interventions (MRIC): Speaking of trading along under the radar, shares of MRI Interventions may be doing just that again following an early-July run that quickly sent shares from under the two dollar mark to over five bucks in a snap. Having moved so significantly so quickly, the traders bailed with profits in hand and the MRIC share price retreated, and then a stock offering that filled the company coffers with $6 million stalled any near-term rebound. Still, shares are trading for over double their IPO price of a buck earlier this year.
Explosive Trace Detection (ETD) / Global Defense:
Implant Sciences (IMSC): It's been a volatile ride for Implant over the past few weeks with multiple key catalysts pending and the financial future of the company dramatically improved after a deal last week with its key creditor. As noted last week, Implant negotiated an extended credit agreement with its senior secured lender, DMRJ Group LLC. DMRJ holds over $20 million in Implant debt and much of the debt was coming due at the end of this month. Those concerns are now alleviated as DMRJ agreed to extend the terms until the end of March, 2013, providing a full two quarters of development and progress for Implant before having to worry about debt coming due. Investors welcomed the news and vote of confidence with open arms as shares traded higher by twenty percent this past Wednesday.
Healthy Beverage / Diet, Fitness:
Celsius Holdings (CELH): A quick volume spike during the closing days of August may have drawn some modest investor interest the way of Celsius Holdings, but the latest quarterly report that led to the volume spike may still leave some doubt that the company's recovery is in effect. During the first quarter of 2012 Celsius reported sales revenue of $2.5 million, up from $1.8 million the quarter before that, but the revenue number dropped again during the latest quarter for a familiar total of $1.8 million. While still a sign of stability, if nothing else, investors will be looking for more after the announcement of a new PR firm earlier this year and the signing of Fitness Icon Tony Little as the company's 'Fitness Ambassador' shortly thereafter.
It should be another exciting week ahead, and on top of everything else - it's NFL season again.
Disclosure: Long AMRN, IMSC, CELH, TTNP, SGYP.
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