Friday File: “Doctor on a Chip,” “Pinpoint Surgery” and Ligand

Checking in on a couple recent teasers, plus an update on an old favorite.

I’ve got a few stocks to mention in the medical space this week — one to update that’s in my portfolio, one to confirm as a teaser pick (since folks keep asking) after several Gumshoe readers discussed it last week, and one to note as a teaser idea that’s being pushed pretty heavily (though the teaser copy is a bit out of date).

So let’s jump right on it, shall we?

And yes, dear friends, the update is about Ligand, one of the stronger-performing picks I’ve featured for the Irregulars in recent years, though it’s been a wild ride (I first suggested it almost exactly two years ago)… the “confirmation” is that Paul Mampilly at Stansberry’s Professional Speculator is indeed teasing Accuray (ARAY), and the other teaser note is that the “doctor on a chip” stock pitched by the Angel Investing folks must be Opko Health (OPK), despite the fact that the ad mostly uses numbers from last year.

Let’s go through them in reverse order. First, Angel and Opko… since that one had a big move on news yesterday. I spent a few minutes looking at this teaser earlier in the week, when it was mailed heavily, and after finding that they were teasing Opko as a $3 billion company and thus must be using old data (that was six months ago, it got close to $9 billion this week) I lost some interest.

But folks have been asking, and they just announced a substantial acquisition yesterday that took the shares down a bit, so I thought I’d take a quick look.

The spiel from Technology & Opportunity over at Angel Publishing, now edited by Jason Stutman, can be found here if you want to get the full story, but here’s the gist:

“Doctor on a Chip

“This $3 “card” will soon be available everywhere…

“And insiders expect its biotech owner to return explosive 800% gains….

“A new medical ‘card’ has just left the four-year testing phase and is about to hit the mainstream.

“This medical “card” uses a single drop of blood to test for fatal viruses, including HIV (before it becomes AIDS), cancer, hepatitis, and a variety of sexually transmitted diseases.

“The best part is, it’s much, much faster than anything we’ve seen yet.

“With traditional testing methods, you have to make an appointment with the doctor, give vials of blood, sit through lab testing, and then wait weeks or even months for results.

“But this advanced ‘card’ accurately and safely tests for deadly viruses in just 15 minutes… while you wait.

“And it’ll soon be in every doctor’s office around the globe… not to mention in remote parts of the world where it would be impossible to transport labs and traditional testing devices.”

The ad goes on for a bit, with some more clues (don’t worry, I double checked ’em), but the pitch is clearly about the Claros 1 testing device from Opko, which incorporates a small desktop (or even handheld, if you’re hand’s really big) reader and a blood collection/cassette system where you put a drop of blood on a card-sized plastic piece, it gets sucked up into some micrufluidic arrays and nanoparticle channels (I’m probably using the wrong words there — there’s some gee-whizzery to it), insert that into a cassette, and feed it into a small machine that analyses the blood and produces results. (You can see some similar photos to what’s in the ad in this Opko Diagnostics presentation, if you’re curious.)

That’s only part of Opko’s business, and still quite a small part — under Dr. Philip Frost, a well-known and well-connected name in biotech and on Wall Street, Opko was created by merging several different companies, and since then they’ve acquired small stakes in a large number of small biotech firms to go with their drug development, lab business, and their most well-known product, the prostate cancer screening tool 4KScore. 4KScore is a blood test that looks for aggressive prostate cancer that actually requires an aggressive response (as opposed to the “wait and watch” approach often used). That particular test is one that gets sent in to a lab, not one of the Claros 1 tests, in case you’re wondering.

This biotech/diagnostics conglomerate has clearly been a hot story over the past year, tripling from where the stock was late in 2014, and it looks like they’re using that higher share price to try to consolidate their position in diagnostics — yesterday they announced a deal to acquire Bio-Reference Laboratories (BRLI), a smaller lab company (market cap of about $800 million before the