Alere wins FDA nod for HIV test, struggles on the Street

Alere ($ALR) is trying to get back to business as usual now that it has shaken off a proxy challenge, winning the FDA's blessing for a combo HIV diagnostic as it works to convince investors it has a plan for the future.

First, the good news: Alere won FDA approval for its Determine HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab Combo test, which, as its name suggests, can identify an HIV-1 antigen and antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2. It's the first test of its kind to do both at the same time, the agency said, and its ease of use makes it ideal for outreach settings where bulky lab diagnostics are unavailable.

But then there's Alere's stock price. For the past month and change, activist investor Coppersmith Capital Management was building up steam to challenge the company status quo and install its own board members, advocating a segment fire sale designed to boost shareholder value. As the war of words between Coppersmith and Alere escalated, so too did the company's shares, jumping 41% from July 3 to a $34.49 peak Tuesday, the eve of the shareholder vote to decide the company's future.

Alere won that vote, of course, and while the company celebrated rebuffing a proxy challenge, investors reacted by spiking its share price as much as 14% in the ensuing hours, eventually bottoming out at $29.61 on Thursday.

That about brings us to now, as Alere touts another FDA approval for its growing diagnostics business and crawls back from a rough day on the Street, opening at $31.50 after slowing rising from Thursday's crater. While Alere is certainly pleased to be on the other side of the protracted proxy fight, the company's post-game statement made clear it knew how close it came to trouble, and the company has promised investors it will "further (sharpen) our commitment to delivering strong results."

Last quarter, the company's diagnostics business grew 11.7% to $599.6 million, fueling 9.1% company-wide revenue growth, but mounting charges raided those profits, and Alere's net loss more than tripled to $65.9 million.

- read the FDA's statement

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