Playing a hot hand, Juno Therapeutics ups the ante on a $200M-plus IPO

In biotech, you don't wait to raise money when you need it. You raise cash when you can. And right now, Juno Therapeutics is bundling cash in bulk.

Even as biotech IPOs run into an increasing amount of flak from finicky investors who have been sated by the two-year boom in new offerings, Juno is marching to a Thursday pricing event for its IPO confident that its hot hand in immuno-oncology--taking T cells and re-engineering them into attack bots targeting cancer--will hand it one of the year's biggest windfalls. On Tuesday, the Seattle-based biotech boosted its projected price range from an already hefty $15-$18 a share to $21-$23, looking to add $50 million to the haul.

Altogether the company is aiming to raise more than $200 million. If it is successful, Juno will have a market cap of $2 billion - up from $1.5 billion.

Juno has already raised more than $300 million from private investors, drawing in celebrities like Amazon's Jeff Bezos. For a biotech that just celebrated the first anniversary of its Series A, raising more than half a billion dollars in a little more than 12 months has to stand as some kind of record. And when trading begins at the end of the week, the whole industry will be sizing up the implications for 2015.

A number of industry investors have been predicting that the New Year will begin with more clear bifurcation in IPOs. Strong new offerings from high-profile biotechs stand a good chance of doing well, while the weak IPOs from marginal or weak players will suffer big discounts or simply be forced to the sidelines.

Rushing into this game is Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, which is looking to do a quick flip into the market after filing their S-1 December 11.  Bellicum is leveraging its own CAR-T efforts to win the affection of investors. And between the two companies, VCs will get a good look at what should play well on Wall Street in early 2015.

The biotech IPO boom isn't over yet as Juno looks to end the year with a bang. But this act will be hard to follow in 2015. That will be the subject of Stacy Lawrence's panel at JP Morgan in January. You can register here.-- John Carroll (email | Twitter)

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