Beware! 3 Biotech Stocks Waving Massive Red Flags Right Now

Stocks to sell

The biotech sector never fails to offer up stocks full of massive issues at any given time. Developing novel therapeutic devices and pharmaceuticals is, after all, very expensive. Therefore, it is extraordinarily common to find heavily indebted firms that incur massive losses when investing in the sector. That’s essentially the MO for all of the biotechnology industry: Spend a lot of money for a chance at even greater sums of money and hope you don’t flame out.

The numbers don’t lie, though, and biotech firms do fail at alarmingly high rates. Thus, the following biotech stocks to avoid will likely join that failed list:

Axcella Health (AXLA)

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Axcella Health (NASDAQ:AXLA) is one of the top biotech stocks to avoid. The company continues to attempt to commercialize its proprietary combination of amino acids to treat long-term COVID-19. The results of that pursuit have not been good.

Essentially, Axcella Health has spent a lot of money pursuing that goal. That has led to massive losses. The company realized it couldn’t continue doing so sometime last year. Losses for the first half of 2022 and Q2 reached $40.3 and $21.3 million, respectively. Those losses are much lower this year, falling to $7.4 million and $3.4 million during the same periods. That might sound positive, but it’s simply a result of the fact that the firm suspended all R&D efforts and let 85% of its employees go just a week before Christmas last year. 

More recently, Axcella Health enacted a 1-for-25 reverse stock split that has driven prices lower. All the signs point to imminent failure.

Moderna (MRNA)

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Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) doesn’t want its stock or company to be defined by its Covid vaccine success. The company is trying to distance itself from that success and move into a new era for the firm.

CEO Stéphane Bancel said as much in uncertain terms: “This is not a Covid vaccine company.” Instead, the company intends to parlay its pandemic success into a long-term pharmaceutical success story. The firm intends to launch 15 new products over the next five years. It’s pretty clear that Moderna is following the lead of Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) in that regard. Both firms have reeled following vaccine successes as their share prices have fallen in 2023. Both are undertaking product launches funded by COVID victories.

I’ve written about my belief in Pfizer in that regard several times. I don’t feel the same about Moderna. Its revenue decline has been much more drastic. Revenues fell by 95% in Q2. It relies almost completely on vaccine sales, while Pfizer is much more diversified and well-established.

Investors should thus be cautious because the two firms are different.

Singular Genomics Systems (OMIC)

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Singular Genomics Systems (NASDAQ:OMIC) burns through a lot of cash, as do most biotechs. That should be unsurprising to investors who follow stocks in the sector. The company isn’t developing pharmaceuticals, though. Instead, Singular Genomics Systems sells genetic sequencing systems.

That said, the problems it faces are the same as those drug makers face. In short, it is expensive to develop and market healthcare products. The company sold 2 of its G4 sequencers and reported $0.5 million in revenues during Q2. To date, the company has sold and installed 11 of the systems.

It also incurred $27.5 million in operating expenses in those sales, leading to a $25.6 million net loss. Those figures fairly represent the firm for the last year and a half. Singular Genomics Systems has enough liquidity on hand to keep going for three more quarters. It may raise more money, or it might not. Regardless, if the company doesn’t want to fail, it will have to rapidly increase the rate at which it sells its G4 sequencers and fast.

On the date of publication, Alex Sirois did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines.

Alex Sirois is a freelance contributor to InvestorPlace whose personal stock investing style is focused on long-term, buy-and-hold, wealth-building stock picks. Having worked in several industries from e-commerce to translation to education and utilizing his MBA from George Washington University, he brings a diverse set of skills through which he filters his writing.

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