The DOW, S&P and Nasdaq all jumped by well over one percent on Monday, opening the week on a strong note following the worst week of 2012 thus far. Bernanke gave investors the warm/fuzzy, but economic concerns in Europe, rising oil prices and threats from the Middle East are all factors that we're going to hear about again, so it's tough to get euphoric about the market strength right now.
But boy does all the green look good.
You've got to love politics. Rick Santorum has spent the better part of the past six months (although it seems like years) tearing apart Mitt Romney on his policies and politics, and even got downright personal at times. But when asked if he'd join the Romney choo-choo train as Vice President if asked, of course he said he'd jump on board.
And these guys wonder why the public doesn't take them seriously any more.
That doesn't help Gingrich, though, who will still be campaigning for the seat come December, still insisting that he has a shot.
It's looking like the international community (IC) is again stepping it up to put a stop to the bloodshed in Syria. The first sign of toughness came when the IC cancelled the Syrian first lady's credit cards and cut off her lavish shopping trips, and now the same group that took down Muammar Khaddafi is willing to supply the Syrian rebels with food and medical aid. The first question that comes to mind is how will the aid get there? We saw the mess that became of Bosnia when the United Nations tried the same thing, and you'd have to believe that the Syrian troops would help themselves to the resupply riches carried by any convoys coming through the "safe havens" and "corridors" that would need to exist for such aid to get through.
Then there's the issue of gratitude and practicality - sure the rebels will appreciate the help, but I don't see a bunch of syringes being much of a defense against tank shells and artillery rounds. Are the rebel troops supposed to get close enough to poke the bad guys in the eye? Futility at its best.
There's arguments for both sides - whether to forcefully remove the Syrian regime or not, but it's the cursory measures like this one that get ridiculous. Meanwhile, the dictator is still fine dining, and something tells me that his wife is still on Nordstrom.com shopping for those Prada heels, even though the IC has told her that she's grounded from shopping.
The Tim Tebow circus in New York is in full effect. Headlines in the Big Apple read this week that Big Tim cares more about Jesus than he does winning a Super Bowl and that his bosses made him have that fanfare introductory press conference with the media, as if he didn't want one.
Giants owner John Mara wins joke of the day, though, for reminding everyone that the press conference for Giants quarterback David Carr would be held the next day...nice.
As expected, Mark Sanchez may still be the #1 on paper, but he's sure been relegated to second fiddle everywhere else; and that's not good for the Jets locker room this season.
Meanwhile, the best news out of the Mets spring camp is that Carlos Beltran, who's not a Met anymore, paid ten grand for pitcher Jonathan Niese's nose job.
You can't make this stuff up.
Let's see what's up in the stock market...
Siga Technologies (SIGA): As recently as last week we noted at VFC's Stock House that shares of Siga Technologies (SIGA) may have been entering buy territory. Siga opened the new year gunning for new short term highs as a February run sputtered at just under the four dollar mark. Shares quickly slipped back to under three bucks, although the potential for some positive catalysts to develop into a rebound always existed - and still does.
Volume of over five times the daily norm sent Siga shares back to over the $3.50 mark on Monday, reaching as high as $3.63 during intra-day trading before settling in at $3.49 for the close, good for a thirty percent gain on the day.
The good times should be rolling for this company, having been awarded a significant contract by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (BARDA) for the company's smallpox antiviral ST-246, but some high profile conflicts-of-interest and a legal battle with rival PharmAthene (PIP) have depressed the share price and shaken the confidence of investors.
Monday's move came with no significant news announcements, but investors like some chart indicators that broke out to the positive and speculate that Siga may win a key reversal, or at least be liable for a lesser settlement as an outcome to the legal review that the company requested regarding the PharmAthene litigation.
As it stands, Siga will have to split proceeds 50/50 with PIP after banking the first $40 million.
This has been a highly volatile stock for the better part of a couple of years, but Monday's action smells like something could be brewing.
Keep an eye on SIGA.
McDonald's Corporation (MCD): McDonald's (MCD) made the 'Weekly Stock Watch' list this week after sliding last week on concerns over the transition of power between CEOs. The concerns may be over-emphasized, as it's not likely that this company is going anywhere as a powerhouse in the fast food business any time soon.
The company has managed to stay ahead of the curve by serving healthy alternatives to its long-standing menu of burgers and fries and international growth is still solidly trending higher, and should for a long time as many key economies expand.
Expanding economies usually mean that the Golden Arches are coming to town at some point - just ask Europe and the Middle East.
MCD enjoyed a strong opening to the week, along with the rest of the market, by jumping nearly a buck fifty on the heels of announcing some menu changes geared to offer consumers a wider range of options for cheaper prices.
Should the market correct itself, MCD is likely to follow suit, but any dips could be a nice buying opportunity with eyes towards the long term and/or IRA.
Nice day Monday, though.
Agenus, Inc. (AGEN): Huge volume, big news and renewed investor interest sent shares of Agen (AGEN) running quick over the past few weeks. The strong run continued on Monday, following a couple of days last week that saw the spike sputter as some decides to bank profits and either move on to another quick runner or wait to see if a pullback materializes with AGEN.
Monday's action certainly didn't look like the makings of a pullback.
Shares sped through six dollars again on volume more than twice the average, good enough for a ten percent rise on the day.
No news accompanied the spike, although some of the interest could have been related to the strong day in the broad market as a whole as AGEN again made the Nasdaq top-gainers list.
Agenus could be considered a buyout candidate after news hit weeks ago about an expanded partnership agreement with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), while attention will also be on the potential of the company's cancer immunotherapy pipeline, namely Prophage, which is currently being tested in a Phase II trial for glioma.
Still worth watching, and it could be worth picking up a few shares if a pullback does materialize.
NovaBay Pharmaceuticals (NBY): NovaBay has quietly posted some nice action over the past few weeks while seemingly slipping below the radar. Another up-volume day of more than twice the daily norm was good for a five percent price rise on Monday.
With significant catalysts still pending for this year, and given the market potential of the company's anti-infective pipeline, there could be more room for this one to move.
A commercial launch is planned over the short term for NeutroPhase, NBY's first FDA-cleared product and a treatment for chronic wounds in both hospital and personal care. A couple of months ago the company announced its first strategic partner for NeutroPhase, and the company has previously indicated that a partner will be signed for US distribution as well.
After another key day on Monday, NBY is still worth keeping an eye on.
In a couple of years this company could be on the horizon of becoming a major player in the pharmaceutical market, if the pipeline catalysts continue to play out to the positive.
For now, it's worth watching out for the NeutroPhase commercial launch.
Prolor Biotech (PBTH) up nearly four percent on average volume...Human Genome Sciences (HGSI) up over eight bucks again, but still carrying a significant short percentage...Generex (GNBT) trickling back towards ten cents...Dendreon (DNDN) up nearly four percent, but also carrying significant short interest...Avanir (ANVR) also up lately, but with growing short interest...Lpath, Inc. (LPTN) up four percent, but again denied at eighty cents...Banks, namely Bank of America (BAC) and Citi (C) still looking strong...FuelCell (FCEL) pushing $1.60 again after last week's drop...Capstone Turbine (CPST) may be in buy territory again.
Disclosure: Long FCEL, CPST, HGSI, SIGA, MCD, NBY, LPTN.
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