Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ:INO) has been in the news all week. First, it made headlines as the leader for developing a potential coronavirus vaccine. INO shares promptly skyrocketed and peaked at $19.37 on March 9.
Then, just as quickly, the bottom fell out. The share price dropped all the way down to $6.63, meaning INO lost 65.77% of its value in less than 24 hours.
Such a short-lived spike has investors suffering from whiplash. So why did Inovio’s stock come crashing down? And where does it go from here? Let’s find out.
Citron Research Disputes INO’s Claims
Yesterday, around the time that Inovio Pharmaceuticals hit its highest share price, well-known short-seller Citron Research came after the company hard.
Citron, headed by Andrew Left, tweeted that Inovio’s claim it produced its vaccine candidate, INO-4800, in just three hours was “ludicrous and dangerous.” The group also issued a short report warning investors that INO stock would fall down to $2.00 and even called for the SEC to investigate the company and suspend its stock.
The resulting backlash sent INO into freefall.
“When Inovio was exploding, Citron sent out a Tweet and suddenly the stock crash,” explains Rich. “Congratulations Andrew Left for shorting another company.”
Despite the massive sell-off, the company is still up 140% from its price at the start of the year. This compares favorably to the S&P 500’s loss of 13.6%, thus far in 2020.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Responds to Citron
In a statement to shareholders, Inovio claimed that Citron:
“demonstrated a lack of understanding of the science behind DNA medicines. Inovio designed a vaccine construct for coronavirus vaccine within three hours after the viral sequence was publicly available; produced the vaccine at small scale and was in preclinical trials by January.”
Inovio remains committed to presenting the results of human trials by Q3 or Q4. It also plans to deliver 1 million doses for further studies or emergency use by the end of the year.
“Citron is only interested in shorting. They just want to make money,” says Rich. “INO isn’t just another company, they’re trying to find a cure for the coronavirus. But Citron doesn’t care.”
What do you think? Is Inovio Pharmaceuticals still the best COVID-19 play? Is Citron right to try and short INO? Let us know your thoughts!
Featured image: DepositPhotos © olly18