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Is The Big Board A Buy?


Frenzied volatility and high trading volume are usually friends of the New York Stock Exchange, but shares of NYSE Euronext (NYX) have slumped in spite of the recent credit-liquidity crisis. NYX, formed by the 2006 merger of the New York Stock Exchange and Euronext, gains from increased transaction fees as trading volume spikes. NYX runs cash equity exchanges in five countries and six derivative markets worldwide. But its stock, which hit 112 last November, up from its May offering price of 61.50, has since slumped to 72.67. Carl Birkelbach of Birkelbach Investment Securities says investors are shying away because NYX is still digesting the purchase of Euronext. And some also worry that NYX may make another acquisition. But the falling price has spurred Birkelbach to buy. "The stock is very undervalued," he says, because earnings are on the rise. In fact, second-quarter results were boosted by higher volume. Birkelbach sees the stock at 90 this year, extrapolating from his 2008 earnings estimate of $3.48 a share. In 2007, he expects $2.45, up from $1.36 in 2006. Jason Wiley of Standard & Poor's (MHP) says NYX has positioned itself to meet increasing global competition, and Euronext helps to broaden the footprint. He rates NYX a buy.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

Tiny Access Pharmaceuticals (ACCP) may get a call from France's Sanofi-Aventis (SNY). Access was trading over the counter at 2.95 when featured in this column in February. Soon it shot to 10, buoyed by expectations that ProLindac, its chief product, a platinum-based drug for ovarian and colorectal cancer now in phase II clinical trials, could be a blockbuster. The stock has since dropped to 3.85, because of profit taking. But the outlook for Access and ProLindac has vastly improved, says Steven Rouhandeh, CEO of SCO Financial Group, which owns a 30% stake. Access added four new cancer drugs to its pipeline from its acquisition of Somanta Pharmaceuticals. And ProLindac, he adds, could attract attention from Sanofi, which owns Eloxatin, the leading platinum drug for colorectal cancer, a $2.5 billion market. Esteban Cvitkovic, in charge of developing Eloxatin at Sanofi, has since joined Access as vice-chairman for Europe and senior director for oncology clinical R&D. Sanofi's Eloxatin patent has expired in several European countries; In the U.S., its major patent expires in five years. Kevin Raidy of health-care hedge fund H4 Capital, which owns close to 5%, expects Sanofi will be interested in ProLindac. Access CEO Steve Seiler says other big drugmakers have "expressed interest." Sanofi declined comment.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.

The idea of using adults' own stem cells to treat diseases, such as leukemia, is drawing investors' attention. They're looking at NeoStem (NBS), a tiny outfit that specializes in collecting, processing, and storing stem cells from healthy adults for their personal medical use. It has applied for a patent on its technology using adult cells to treat specific ailments. "NeoStem has innovative technology whose value will surely be enhanced as new applications for stem cell therapies continue to emerge," says John Pappajohn, president of Equity Dynamics, which owns shares. Its stock, now at 5.00, started trading on the American Stock Exchange on Aug. 9 at 5.15 a share after a 1-for-10 reverse split. Walter Prendergast of Paradigm Capital Management, which owns shares, says stem cells represent one of the most exciting areas for investors. "They can influence how diseases are treated," he says. With its processing and storage lab in California and collection facilities using NeoStem's technology in four major cities, "we are well positioned for growth," says CEO Robin Smith. Some investors see the stock hitting 9 in a year.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, neither the sources cited in Inside Wall Street nor their firms hold positions in the stocks under discussion. Similarly, they have no investment banking or other financial relationships with them.


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