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Tuesday Winners: Vivus, Ivanhoe Mines and Brooks Automation

Posted
7/13/2010 10:59:00 AM
By: David Sterman
Referenced Stocks:AMAT;ARNA;BRKS;FDA;IVN;REX;RTP;VVUS

Among the biggest winners in Tuesday's early trading are VIVUS (Nasdaq: VVUS) , Ivanhoe Mines ( IVN ) and Brooks Automation (Nasdaq: BRKS) .

Top Percentage Gainers -- Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Company Name (Ticker) Intra-Day Price Intra-Day
% Gain
52-Week High 52-Week Low
VIVUS (Nasdaq: VVUS) $11.98 +12.5% $13.68 $5.57
Ivanhoe Mines ( IVN ) $16.15 +11.9% $18.94 $7.09
Brooks Automation
(Nasdaq: BRKS)
$8.98 +11.9% $10.82 $4.20

*Table includes companies with minimum market capitalizations of $200 million and three month trading volumes of at least 100,000 shares. All percentage returns are listed as of 11:00AM Eastern Standard Time . Click on ticker symbols for up-to-the-minute price quotes and percentage gain data.

VIVUS: No News is Good News

Only a day after shares of VIVUS (Nasdaq: VVUS) slumped on fears that its anti-obesity drugs would prove too risky for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) the biotech company got a possible dose of good news. The FDA acknowledged that its combination drug is indeed effective. And that's pushing shares up nearly +13% this morning. The pair of drugs simultaneously suppress appetite while boosting impulse control.

But -- and it's a big one -- the drug combo raised five separate safety concerns, which will surely be fodder for an outside panel to discuss when it meets on Thursday. Those concerns were anticipated, which is why investors are not reacting with alarm.

Action to Take --> VIVUS may indeed win FDA approval, although it would likely come with restrictions. Meanwhile, drugs being tested by Arena Phramaceuticals (Nasdaq: ARNA) and Orexigen (Nasdaq: OREX) may not have such restrictions, so doctors may be hesitant to prescribe VIVUS' drug. Both of those stocks are up more than +5% this morning as well. VIVUS' drug is too risky to chase, despite today's seemingly positive development.

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Ivanhoe puts up a "For Sale" Sign

For a number of years, mining firms have coveted the massive and potentially lucrative Mongolian real estate holdings of Ivanhoe Mines ( IVN ) . The company seemingly secured the rights to the mineral rich fields out of nowhere, before most firms even knew that Mongolia had such rich deposits of gold, copper and uranium. Since then, the company has repeatedly rebuffed overtures from peers that have tried to buy the company. The United Kingdom's Rio Tinto ( RTP ) eventually prevailed, and now owns roughly 30% of Ivanhoe, with rights to take that ownership up to 45%.

Fearing that Rio Tinto would go past that 45% threshold and eventually boost its stake above 50% and take control, Ivanhoe installed a "poison pill" restriction that would have led to massive dilution if any investors tried such a move. "No fair," shouted Rio Tinto. Well, Ivanhoe has agreed to temporarily suspend the poison pill plan, paving the way for Rio Tinto to boost its stake. Ivanhoe's investors are breathing a sigh of relief, pushing shares up nearly +12%, as any further investment would bring in badly needed capital.

Action to Take --> Shares are also rising on the perception that Ivanhoe will eventually be acquired at a nice premium to the current price. Adding further intrigue, China's Chinalco, which is Rio Tinto's largest shareholder, also covets that Mongolian mineral belt. Don't be surprised if a bidding war ensues while Rio Tinto's stake remains below 50%. When all is said and done, Ivanhoe could receive a bid north of $20 from either party. That's more than +20% above the current price.

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Brooks Automation confirms the Semiconductor Bull Thesis

In recent quarters, the semiconductor industry has been beset by a paradox. Quarterly results -- and forward guidance -- have been strong, yet shares have been in freefall. The majority of chip and chip-equipment stocks now trade for less than ten times projected profits. Clearly, many investors assume the industry's recent upturn won't last.

But as Brooks Automation (Nasdaq: BRKS) told investors Monday evening, business remains quite robust. Brooks, which provides automation tools for the semiconductor fabrication process, notes that bookings are strong, which should enable the company to exceed sales and profit forecasts for the quarters ended in June and September. And that's pushing shares up nearly +12% in Tuesday trading.

Action to Take --> Brooks won't exceed forecasts by a wide margin , but the fact that guidance isn't negative is reason enough for investors to bid shares up. If this industry can sustain growth into the next year or two, then shares are poised for a powerful rally. It's hard to single out Brooks Automation as especially appealing, as it is simply as cheap as many of its peers. For my money, industry titan Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) holds the greatest appeal, as it provides the broadest exposure to the group, while trading at around 11 times next year's profits.


-- David Sterman

David Sterman has worked as an investment analyst for nearly two decades. He started his career in equity research at Smith Barney, culminating in a position as Senior Analyst covering European banks. David has also served as Director of Research at Individual Investor and has made numerous media appearances over the years, primarily on CNBC and Bloomberg TV. David has a master's degree in management from Georgia Tech. Read More...

Disclosure: Neither David Sterman nor StreetAuthority, LLC hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.

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