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Exicure Was Indeed A Dead Cat Bounce – What Next? 

Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall trader
Updated 5 Jan 2022
  • Exicure has been something of a disaster, stockholders have lost 90% of their money since the IPO
  • Finding that a leading researcher was being less than open and honest about experimental results did not help
  • Nor did missing EPS forecasts aid in recouping any stock price losses at Exicure

Exicure Inc (NASDAQ: XCUR) stock hasn’t been a happy story for investors since the IPO up at the $2.80 level. The stock’s now trading in the 21 to 22 cents range and that’s a loss of 90%. The big question, of course, is what comes next? 

We looked at Exicure in December when there was a 30% bounce in that stock price. We asked whether it was merely a dead cat bounce – drop anything from high enough and it will, even if it’s a dead cat, bounce at least once. 

So far at least the answer seems to be yes. There has been a placing of $11 million and change, in stock which fills the holes in Exicure’s bank accounts. But beyond that, there’s no grand news to announce.  

The situation is as it was when the stock fell 40% in a day (then that bounce which faded) and has trundled along with little variance since. There are still those truckloads of securities lawyers chasing them although much of that will be covered by the corporate insurance. While they’ve got rid of the researcher who was feeding inaccurate information through to the FDA they’ve also entirely dumped that line of research. The assumption seems to have been that the misreporting was such that there were no useful results at all. 

Also Read: The Best Healthcare Stocks to Buy

At which point, well, what next? Exicure is refinanced, at least to some degree. It has other lines of research that may or may not turn up something useful and potentially profitable. Is this the time to leap in and buy at the bottom? It is, after all, entirely possible that it was just the one bad actor and once that’s dealt with the future is as rosy as it is for any other pharma research company.

On the other hand, there’s a great deal to be said for that view that luck matters. Even, that corporate culture does. For this isn’t the only problem that has been faced. Back before these revelations, there was a delay to announcing results which, when they were released, showed an earnings miss. Neither of those are great signs of management with its finger on the pulse. It might sound harsh to say it but at this stage in corporate development that’s really all they have. Perhaps an interesting line of research, but the only real asset is the management and how well they’re able to direct and exploit any results from it. 

It’s entirely possible to read this either way around. That problems are all in the past and something interesting is still there in the development pipeline. Or, the opposite, which is that given past performance the management is unlikely to come up with anything interesting.

Knowing which side of that is true will determine any trading position. Still, at least we know now, that last 30% jump we remarked upon, yes, it was that dead feline.

Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a freelance writer specialising in economics and the financial markets.