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Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Codexis Inc., the U.S. biotechnology company, fell the most ever after Chief Executive Officer Alan Shaw resigned and analysts downgraded its shares.
Codexis, which develops enzymes used in the production of biofuels, biochemicals and pharmaceuticals, declined 17 percent to $3.79 at 2:53 p.m. in New York. It dropped as much as 19 percent earlier, the most since it began trading April 22, 2010.
Shaw, who was president of the company since it was founded, will leave his post “to pursue other interests,” the Redwood City, California-based company said in a Feb. 17 statement. Peter Strumph, 47, senior vice president and business head of pharmaceuticals, was appointed interim CEO.
Shaw will continue to serve as a special adviser to the board. His resignation follows the departure of Chief Financial Officer Robert Lawson, who left the company Jan. 24.
“I think the two are unrelated, but nonetheless you have serious turnover within the ranks of senior management,” said Michael Klein, a New York-based analyst with Sidoti & Co. “It makes people question what’s going on internally and behind the scenes.”
Klein downgraded the shares today to “neutral” from “buy” with a target price of $4. Codexis was also downgraded today to “underweight” from “neutral” by Michael Cox, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co. in New York.
Codexis is working with a venture of Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Brazil’s Cosan SA Industria & Comercio on improved yeast strains to boost the output of mills that turn sugar cane into ethanol, technology it said in September it plans to sell at the end of this year.
The company also introduced new enzymes last year for converting biomass into sugars that can be used to make detergent alcohols it’s developing with Chemtex Inc.
“To what extent are these initiatives going to play out and what’s the timeline around when they play out?” Klein said. “That’s the uncertainty right now weighing on the stock.”
--With assistance from Justin Doom in New York. Editors: Tina Davis, Simon Casey
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