Shares of Bluebird Organic ( BLUE -7.44% ) fell 10.4% this week as of Thursday’s market close, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The drop came after the company announced on March 4, 2022 that Gina Consylman was leaving her role as chief financial officer. Bluebird also disclosed in its 10-K filing the same day that “there is substantial doubt as to our ability to continue our business.”
It is not uncommon for a stock to fall when a senior executive, especially the CEO or CFO, leaves unexpectedly. However, Bluebird’s warning about its ability to stay in business certainly rattled investors even more.
Rumors of Bluebird’s impending death, however, might be overblown. CEO Andrew Obenshain even said in the company’s fourth quarter update, “2022 should be a pivotal year.” He mentioned pending approval decisions from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Bluebird’s gene therapies in beta-thalassemia and cerebral adrenoleukodystrophy (CALD). Obenshain also noted that the company plans to seek FDA approval for lovo-cel for the treatment of sickle cell disease in early 2023.
Money is not an immediate problem. Bluebird ended 2021 with $442 million in restricted cash, cash and cash equivalents and marketable securities. He expects to burn less than $400 million in cash this year. However, the company will need to raise additional capital in the not too distant future. Bluebird said in its fourth quarter press release that it is “exploring multiple funding opportunities, including plans for the sale of priority exam vouchers.”
There are several dates this year for investors to mark on their calendars. An FDA advisory committee will likely meet to review Bluebird’s submissions for beti-cel and eli-cel approvals on June 9-10. The PDUFA date for the FDA decision on approval of beti cells in beta thalassemia is August 19. An approval decision from eli-cel in the treatment of CALD is expected by September 16.
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