May 13, 2015 / 5:05 PM / 4 years ago

Cancer conference data may prompt healthcare share volatility

(Reuters) - Healthcare stocks may be unusually volatile after abstracts are released on Wednesday night by many companies scheduled to present at a cancer conference between May 29 and June 2.

Investors were waiting for news that could move share prices from many bigger companies including Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co, Amgen Inc and Celgene Corp. Hot topics at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago will include immuno oncology and CAR-T cell therapies.

Share prices for smaller companies may also move depending on what rivals and academics present, according to Jerry Isaacson, director of research at LifeSci Advisors LLC which manages exchange traded funds.

Investors will pore over abstracts, due out at 5 pm EDT Wednesday for positive or negative clues about the data that will be presented at the conference.

“The smaller companies are the ones we really have to worry about blowing up,” Isaacson said, adding that while most key data will not be revealed until the actual conference “there’ll be a few red flags that will come from the abstracts.”.

Companies developing CAR-T cell therapies, which reprogram T-cells responsible for the body’s immunity against cancer, may be affected by research expected from the Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Pennsylvania, he said.

Shares in Juno Therapeutics Inc, Kite Pharma Inc, BlueBird Bio Inc and Ziopharm Oncology Inc fell sharply on April 20 after the National Cancer Institute presented early study data at a conference showing that patients given CAR-T therapy had their disease stabilize, but did not show any tumor response.

Even if data presented on CAR-T cell treatments is not negative, shares could still fall because investors are skittish due to their lofty valuations.

“It just has to be not quite as exciting as what investors are expecting,” Isaacson said.

Morningstar Inc analyst Damien Conover will keep an eye on bigger companies such as Bristol-Meyers, Merck & Co and Astra Zeneca, which are expected to present data on immmuno oncology treatments. These use the immune system to treat cancer.

Goldman Sachs analysts will keep tabs on data from Amgen, Clovis Oncology Inc, Celgene and Gilead Science Inc while Cowen and Co is eyeing data from Incyte Corp.

Investors will also be closely watching data from Puma Biotechnology and Tracon Pharmaceuticals according to Stifel Nicolaus analyst Thomas Shrader.

Reporting By Sinead Carew; Editing by David Gregorio

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