Biotech Survival Index 2: Boston Life Sciences Companies Squirrel Away More Cash for Long Winter

3/17/09Follow @xconomy

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Momenta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: MNTA). The Cambridge, MA-based company, which specializes in analyzing and engineering complex drug molecules, had $108.5 million in cash and investments heading into 2009, compared with $135.9 million a year ago.

NitroMed (NASDAQ: NTMD). This Lexington, MA-based company agreed to be acquired by Deerfield Management in January for about 80 cents a share, or about a $36.8 million valuation. That meant it bailed out of previous agreements to merge with Cambridge, MA-based Archemix and sell its BiDil heart drug to JHP Pharmaceuticals.

Panacos Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PANC). This Watertown, MA-based biotech company has run so low on cash that it voluntarily chose to de-list its stock from the NASDAQ in February to save money. It hasn’t reported its fourth-quarter financial status to the SEC, but in a statement, the company said its “ability to continue operations into the second quarter of 2009 is in doubt.” (I overlooked Panacos last time).

Parexel (NASDAQ: PRXL). The Waltham, MA-based clinical trial services company reported $63.8 million in cash heading into this year, compared with $51.9 million six months ago. It had a $5.2 million profit in the quarter ended Dec. 31.

PerkinElmer (NYSE: PKI). This Waltham, MA-based maker of scientific instruments got whacked by Wall Street, to a 5-year low, after it said it forecasted revenues would decline in 2009. But the company is profitable, and still had $179 million in cash heading into 2009, although that’s down a bit from $203.3 million a year ago. CEO Rob Friel told me he may use that cash to buy up some companies or technologies on the cheap.

RXi Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: RXII). This Worcester, MA-based developer of dugs based on RNA interference, or RNAi, hasn’t yet filed its fourth quarter financial report. But last month it reached a deal to offer new shares to YA Global Investments for as much as $25 million over the next two years.

Sepracor (NASDAQ: SEPR). The Marlborough, MA-based maker of the sleep drug eszopiclone (Lunesta) had stockpiled $765 million in cash heading into this year, although that’s down from $1.06 billion it had a year earlier.

Synta Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SNTA). The Lexington, MA-based developer of cancer drugs suffered a catastrophic failure last month when it halted a Phase III clinical trial of its melanoma drug, elesclomol, after researchers saw an increased risk of death in patients on the drug. The company cut 90 jobs, about 41 percent of its workforce after the failure. It had about $65 million to $70 million in cash left at the end of 2008, CEO Safi Bahcall said last month. I overlooked Synta in last quarter’s Biotech Survival Index.

Targanta Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TARG). The Cambridge, MA-based company failed to win FDA approval of its lead antibiotic in development last year, and in January it agreed to be acquired by The Medicines Company of Parsippany, NJ for $42 million.

Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO). The Waltham, MA-based maker of scientific supplies has beefed up its balance sheet, with $1.28 billion in cash heading into this year, about double the $625 million it had a year earlier.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: VRTX). The Cambridge, MA-based company had amassed a cash horde of $832 million heading into this year, and then, riding a wave of demand for its shares, decided to do a secondary stock offering last month that pulled in another $320 million. But it will need the loot. The company expects to spend $500 million to $530 million on R&D this year as it pushes its lead drug, the hepatitis C treatment telaprevir, through the final phase of development needed to win FDA approval.

Zoll Medical (NASDAQ: ZOLL). The Chelmsford, MA-based medical device company reported $65.9 million in cash and investments heading into this year, down just a smidge from $69.1 million a year earlier. It’s profitable, so it has no need to burn through the reserves.

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