Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out

Back in April, I bought some shares of a company called Nabi Biopharmaceuticals for just a hair over $10 a share.

I sold them in July for just shy of $15. I sold them for two reasons: I couldn’t find a solid reason for their upward tear (other than what is sometimes called “pin action” – meaning that they were going up because some other stock {cough GENETECH cough} was), and because they were at that time, IMHO and oft wrong opinion, overvalued at $15.

So, I sold them. And they promptly jumped up to $16. And then they hovered around the $15 mark. Then they began drifting…drifting…down…down…

Until Halloween, when they fell a painful 69% from almost $13 to just under $4.


So what happened? Well, they had this vaccine that looked promising for treating/preventing staph infections. Only then, see, well, you know how they do those trial-thingees? You know, the things that Genetech keeps doing where they announce, “Hey! Not only does it do what we thought it would, it also cures the common cold and waxes your car!”

Only this time…the announcement was, “Uh. It sorta…doesn’t work. At all. Not one bit. So we’re going to stop developing it. And the other one, too.”

Gee, what was that sound? It sounded like…all the air being sucked rapidly out of their market capitalization numbers…

They had said, not once but many times, that they were “85% sure” their vaccine would work. And now, with failure in hand, people are pointing at them and mocking. THIS is your 85% sure? THIS is your sure-bet? THIS is what happens, when you were 85% sure that this would work out?!


As much as I’d like to jump on that bandwagon, I just can’t. Because I’ve made some sweeping, grandiose statements and claims in my time and been dead wrong. I’ve been 99% sure that I could get “it” done by Tuesday. I was 95% sure that Danger Mouse would be a boy. I’ve been confident that I could get my family by on $20 a day (ahem) and that I could just say no to a bowl full of potato chips (well, I would have, if there hadn’t been that French onion dip…).

From how much macaroni and cheese my kids would eat for dinner to whether or not I could decipher a four hundred page tome of numbers by Friday, I’ve been confident – and wrong – more times than I care to remember.

So, I’m sorry it didn’t work out for them. I empathize with the awkward situation they now find themselves in, with all those fingers pointing and all those shareholders snarking and all the pain and suffering they are obviously in.

I’m glad I’m not directly sharing it. Although I am, indirectly. Not altogether surprisingly (there was recently some gift-giving funny business between parties of the first and second parts here, and the stock itself had been downgraded in the Tama Rating System from ‘Promising’ to ‘Vegas’), another of my stocks has lost one of only three major clients and has tanked by a (further) 20% today. First Marblehead, you’re killing my wallet, dudes!!

Ah well. Just another day on one of the busiest Streets in the world, eh?

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