Bristol-Myers Investors Set Sights on Cancer Showdown Next Week

(Bloomberg) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. investors hope that a showdown of new lung cancer studies on Monday will give the stock a long-awaited boost.

The shares have languished ahead of the upcoming American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in Chicago as Wall Street awaits the lung-cancer clash between Bristol-Myers and rival Merck & Co. Bristol-Myers could rise as much as 8 percent if it can show a response rate that is 10 percent to 15 percent better than Merck, according to Credit Suisse analyst Vamil Divan. Disappointing results combined with strong Merck data could send Bristol-Myers down as much as 6 percent, Divan said.

BMO Capital Markets analyst Alex Arfaei expects the Bristol-Myers data will be disappointing. The drugmaker is focusing on a narrower group of patients that would require doctors to conduct additional screening that isn’t currently driving their decision-making.

Merck’s patient group is broader, plus the drugmaker is already in the lead in lung cancer. A successful study plus disappointment for Bristol-Myers could send Merck shares up 3 percent to 5 percent, while the potential downside is only 2 percent to 3 percent, Divan said in a telephone interview.

Read More: Lung Cancer Breakthroughs Are Likely to Reshape Care in Years to Come

Merck & Co.

Merck will present data from its “KeyNote-189” trial at 10:35 a.m. in Chicago. The study looked at Keytruda plus chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone in patients with lung cancer, regardless of their PD-L1 expression. Recent success from the Keynote-042 monotherapy trial “undoubtedly cemented” Merck’s position in lung cancer and helps to move the goal post for the lung-cancer race, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sam Fazeli wrote.

Credit Suisse expects “clearly positive data” that should be the “cleanest and easiest to interpret out of the group of studies.” Merck will hold an investor event related to the meeting on Monday at 6:45 p.m. CT.


At 11:35 a.m. CT, investors will get a first look at results from Bristol-Myers’s Phase 3 “CheckMate-227” study of Opdivo and Yervoy in patients newly diagnosed with advanced lung cancer with high tumor mutational burden. The stock reaction will depend on the combination’s performance against Opdivo by itself, though comparisons will be made to Merck’s KeyNote-189, according to Divan. Bristol-Myers could be up 6 percent to 8 percent in the best-case scenario or down about 6 percent in the worst case, Divan says.

Bristol-Myers is “already about one-and-a-half years behind” and “combined with Merck’s monotherapy setting a higher benchmark, they are likely to disappoint,” BMO’s Arfaei said by phone.

Citi said Thursday that Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ian Read called Bristol-Myers “high risk” and said he had no interest in buying the company without “transformational data” or a de-rating of the shares.

Bristol-Myers will hold an investor event to discuss the lung-cancer data Monday at 5 p.m. CT.

Blueprint Medicines

Blueprint Medicines Corp. will present data from a Phase 1 study of its RET inhibitor, BLU-667, in solid tumors on April 15 at 3:05 p.m. CT. Investor focus will be on the efficacy and safety of the drug dose that will be advanced into the next stage of clinical trials. The data will also be compared with those from Loxo Oncology Inc., which is developing RET inhibitor LOXO-292, Goldman Sachs analyst Terence Flynn writes. Loxo will likely present additional data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in June, according to Flynn, which will help to determine the bar for success between the two drugs.

Blueprint will host an investor event Sunday at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Fate Therapeutics

Fate Therapeutics Inc. will present results Monday from its off-the-shelf CAR-T cancer therapy FT819. Piper has highlighted the company as a top pick.


ArQule Inc. investors will be focused on Phase 1 data for ARQ 751 in patients with solid tumors on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. The company will also have poster presentations for ARQ 531, which Leerink analyst Jonathan Chang said is ArQule’s most exciting product in development and presents upside for the stock.

The shares are up more than 50 percent since the company announced its presentations for the conference on March 15.

Dynavax Technologies

Dynavax Technologies Inc. will present Phase 1 results of SD-101 combined with Merck’s Keytruda in melanoma on Tuesday at 8 a.m.

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