3 Events Behind Inovio's Volatile Ride Wednesday

Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc INO shares were volatile Wednesday amid external developments and a presentation by CEO Joseph Kim at a health care conference.

Inovio's Sympathy Move: Inovio shares, which shed about 4% Tuesday before settling at $16.98, gap-opened Wednesday down at $16.21 as traders digested the news of a rival coronavirus vaccine candidate moving to late-stage trials.

Citron's Warning Weighs Down Inovio Shares: After cutting some of the losses in early trading and reaching $16.59 around 9:35 a.m. Wednesday, Inovio's stock headed down again.

The renewed selling came after a tweet by short seller Citron Research, which suggested the stock could move all the way back down to $5.

This is closer to the levels the stock was trading ahead of the company's announcement of its plan to develop a DNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

As opposed to the frontrunner vaccine developers, which were running trials with over 30,000 participants, Inovio is turning in findings from 40-participant-strong trial and animal studies, the tweet said.

Yet Twitterati were quick to point out that Citron is comparing the strength of an early stage trial with that of the large-scale, late-stage trials of rivals.

The stock hit a low of $15.23 around 9:30 a.m. before recovering some lost ground.

Inovio's Kim Talks The Stock Up Yet Again: Speaking at the Oppenheimer Fall Healthcare Life Sciences and MedTech summit, CEO Joseph Kim discussed Inovio's coronavirus vaccine program as well as the rest of its pipeline.

Kim's address began at 10:50 a.m. At the summit, Kim spoke about topics including safety; efficacy; the imminent start of the Phase 2/3 trial; and details regarding the clinical trial protocol.

The stock nearly wiped away all loses around 11:10 a.m. before pulling back yet again.

Inovio Analyst Hopeful: Inovio is on track to initiate the Phase 2/3 trial of INO-4800, its investigational DNA vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, with full external funding by the end of this month, Benchmark analyst Aydin Huseynov said in a Wednesday note.

INO-4800 is well-positioned to compete with the front-runners in terms of long-term protective cellular immunity, the analyst said. "We believe the FDA greenlight would trigger a chain of events with subsequent funding from US/global governments for expansion of manufacturing capacities and pre-booking of additional doses for 2021 and beyond," he said.

Huseynov has a Buy rating on Inovio with a $36 price target.

INO Price Action: At last check, Inovio shares were trading down 6.15% at $15.94.

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