Geron Corporation (NASDAQ: GERN), a cancer-drug company, resumed its yearlong rally on Tuesday, with its shares rising by as much as 14.5% on heavy volume. The spark?
Geron's stock has been ripping higher ever since its partner Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) posted an opening for a strategic pricing manager for the blood-cancer drug Imbruvica -- as well as for imetelstat -- in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Geron and J&J are presently collaborating on imetelstat's development as a treatment for the blood-based malignancies known as advanced myelofibrosis and low-risk myelodysplastic syndromes.
Geron's stock has pulled back to some degree, but its shares remained up by a healthy 11.9% as of 12:12 p.m. EDT on Tuesday.
Geron's shareholders seem to be taking this job posting as a strong indicator that J&J will elect to continue imetelstat's clinical program. If so, Geron will be in line for another milestone payment before year's end. More important is the fact that a positive continuation decision would mean that small-cap Geron wouldn't have to try to advance imetelstat's clinical program alone -- a scenario that would almost certainly lead to further dilution and perhaps a lengthy pause in the drug's development.
Geron's investor relations firm has repeatedly stated that J&J's continuation decision is expected by no later than Sept. 30. However, there's an outside chance that J&J might make some sort of reference to this collaboration on Sept. 13, when the company is scheduled to review its pharmaceutical business with investors. That's not a guarantee, given the sheer breadth of J&J's pharma pipeline, but it's an event that Geron's shareholders will definitely want to mark down on their calendars.
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George Budwell owns shares of Geron and Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool owns shares of Johnson & Johnson and has the following options: short October 2018 $135 calls on Johnson & Johnson. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.