Zika Virus and Inovio Pharmaceuticals

There have been some shocking pictures and videos of newborn infants suffering from microcephaly, apparently linked to their mothers having contracted the Zika virus. The World Health Organization claims that the Zika virus’ rapid spread represents an ‘explosive’ epidemic. So, today, the CEO of Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Dr. Joseph Kim, announces that it would not be impossible for a Zika vaccine to on the market this year. With that potentially positive news, shares of Inovio (INO on the NASDAQ) jumped from a closing price of USD 5.37 on Wednesday to around USD 7.00 by Friday’s after hours trading – a two-day increase of over 30%.

Some argue that Inovio seems to make these types of hopeful announcements whenever the threat of a major epidemic, like MERS or Ebola, threatens the world. The result is a short-term upward blip in the company’s stock price. Inovio is by no means the only firm that seeks to benefit from alarming media reports. According to Paul Santos, a self-described long/short equity, arbitrage, event-driven, research analyst, posting on Seeking Alpha, INO, is not the worst of the self-promotional biotechs.

While I personally, haven’t invested in INO, a member of my family has. I’m satisfied simply watching “Zika virus” trending on Google.