Shares of Bellicum Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: BLCM) fell nearly 14% last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence , after the company announced that CFO Alan Musso will be departing on the last day of August. The press release hinted that was the plan all along after Musso helped the company raise $69 million in gross proceeds from a share offering at the end of April -- capital that will come in handy as the biopharma looks to push its lead drug candidate over the finish line and develop two earlier-stage assets.
Nonetheless, Wall Street didn't take very kindly to the news of a top executive leaving the company. Bellicum Pharmaceuticals stock had actually gained 8% from the start of the month to July 16, the day the departure was announced. It lost over 20% the rest of the month to end with a full-month decline of 13.8%.
The hits keep coming for Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, which has lost 30% year to date and 43% in the last year. While some of that is due to dilutive fundraising, the majority of the company's inability to woo investors stems from stumbles in the clinic. The biopharma, which is developing adoptive cell therapy it thinks can address safety concerns encountered by pioneering cell therapies to date, has simply not convinced Wall Street it deserves a premium valuation for its early-stage efforts.
In Wall Street's defense, it seems increasingly possible that the two early-stage cell therapies, BPX-601 and BPX-701, could fall too far behind the rapidly changing technology curve in the industry. Meanwhile, although the lead drug candidate, BPX-501, is currently being investigated in five separate clinical studies evaluating its potential to treat blood disorders, blood cancers, and graft-versus-host disease. Progress has been slow and the market potential may be underwhelming.
Shareholders are in desperate need of some good news out of Bellicum Pharmaceuticals. That could take the form of a regulatory update for BPX-501 in Europe, where it's expected to be in regulatory review by 2019, or perhaps head-turning results from the first clinical trials of BPX-601 or BPX-701. Then again, given Wall Street's persistent pessimism, the company has its work cut out for it to gain the respect of industry observers and analysts.
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