Biotech IPOs sputter amid downsizings, disappointments and white flags

Six biotechs were expected to go public this week, eyeing nearly $400 million combined, but that potential has so far amounted to one deeply discounted offering, one bottom-of-the-range debut and one outright cancellation.

Pfenex ($PFNX), a San Diego developer of biosimilars, limped onto Wall Street with a twice-reduced IPO, grossing about $50 million. The company had initially sought up to $70 million, planning to move 5 million shares at between $12 and $14 each. Pfenex dialed those expectations down last week, expect to make $8 a share but boosting its offering up to more 8 million shares to make up the difference. In the end, it priced at just $6, trading down to around $5.75 when it opened Thursday morning.

The oncology-focused Immune Design ($IMDZ) had better go of it, pricing at the low end of its expected range but still bringing in $60 million to support its work on three Phase I immunotherapies. The biotech moved 5 million shares at $12 each, increasing the size its offering by about 6% to compensate for not reaching the $14 valuation it had initially hoped for.

Biomarker developer KineMed wasn't so fortunate, however, and after repeated delays a downward revisions, the company has pulled its plans to raise $32 million.

Yet to be heard from are Atara Biotherapeutics, Ocular Therapeutix, Innocoll and Mapi-Pharma, all expected to make their debuts this week. Atara, an Amgen ($AMGN) spinoff focused on kidney disease and oncology, is seeking $75 million, as are eye gel maker Ocular Therapeutix and bioresorbable collagen outfit Innocoll.

Meanwhile, biotech's record-setting performance on Wall Street has taken a turn for the volatile, forcing many hopefuls to delay, discount or call off their debuts. Syndax Pharmaceuticals is yet to come through on a plans to raise $69 million on Wall Street, and Ambrx has backed away from an effort to go public for $86 million.

But biotechs with promising candidates and clear-cut paths to success are still managing to make it out of biotech's tightening IPO window, including Sage Therapeutics ($SAGE) with its up-sized $90 million haul; Kite Pharma ($KITE) and its $128 million debut; and Zafgen ($ZAFG), which raked in $96 million to support its obesity treatment.

And the pace of filings is hardly slowing down. This week alone, ear disease biotech Avalanche Biotechnologies set terms for a $76 million IPO, while Tobira Therapeutics laid out plans for a $60 million raise and Auris Medical detailed a $76 million IPO of its own.

- read Pfenex's statement
- here's Immune Design's announcement
- get more on KineMed