June 2, 2020

The trading trends of 2 key biopharma stocks are raising eyebrows

Experts say fortuitously timed trades of Moderna and Gilead Sciences could draw scrutiny from regulators.

Photo by Robert Michael/picture alliance via Getty Images

Investors are desperate for any good news about 2 companies involved in the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Or maybe the performance of the companies’ stocks is a little too good to be true.

Wall Street observers say fortuitously timed trades of 2 biopharma stocks — Moderna and Gilead Sciences — could put the companies under a regulatory microscope.

Call it a coincidence, or something else?

CNN Business laid out the case of Moderna: The company sold 17.6m shares in the hours after releasing promising results from an early vaccine trial. 

But medical experts took some air out of the hype balloon, saying it was too early to draw solid conclusions from the results.

Moderna execs — and the VC firm that is the company’s largest shareholder — sold shares before the stock price came back down to Earth. 

Former SEC officials say the deals could get a closer look from investigators, though the company says the transactions followed its insider-trading policy.

Meanwhile, on Planet Gilead…

Reuters raised similar questions about the timing of options trades. Four large chunks of options were purchased the day before Gilead’s shares jumped nearly 10%. The company told Reuters it hadn’t heard from regulators on the matter and declined further comment.

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