ASX-listed biopharma companies are a deceptive lot, and I have seen continuous disclosure rules abused in all kinds of subtle and clever ways. One of the strategies that amuses me the most is the “updated investor presentation” as it often yields a whole hell of a lot of interesting clues about how a company is thinking. Most punters just “ooh” and “aaah” at a fresh set of PowerPoint and jerk each other off on HotCopper.
I think there is far more to it than that.
Back in March, Bionomics (ASX : BNO) provided us with their freshest investor deck. It’s pretty nice – perhaps a bit on the long side – but quite lovely. I suppose considering the number of projects BNO has going, it is a fairly succinct deck and I enjoyed reading it. All of the programs get reasonable treatment in the presentation, but BNC105 is arguably the star of the show. As a simple substantiation of this statement, below is a little graph of the percentage of slides that mention the main four BNO programs:Fast-forward to today, BNO has provided an updated investor deck. All casual-like. Just keepin’ the shareholder base informed and dazzling us with the latest slides. Yeah, baby. Except that everything has changed. I could probably write 2,000 words on the differences between March and July, but the key visual nutshell is this: In terms of the frequency of mentions of BNC105, the reduction is dramatic and only one slide mentions BNC105, and even then only in passing. To further illustrate, here is the “pipeline” slide from March (slide 9): But today? Here is July’s pipeline slide (Slide 7). Also, BNO is now really a “CNS first” company… Cancer is second. Yes, folks. BNC105 has gone from the most strongly positioned program in BNO’s investor deck, to the least positioned program. In fact, it barely gets a mention. I told you in my prior post that this program was a crock of shit and my position on this drug is that is has no substantive anti-cancer efficacy based on the public information disclosed by BNO. I would argue, quite evidently, that BNO is starting to agree with me.
The problem with this situation, is that BNO hasn’t really told YOU (i.e. shareholders). Via the guise of being transparent and providing good quality, real-time information to shareholders, BNO is actually pulling a fast one. Whatever BNO tells an investor, tells you everything you need to know about the company’s vision for the future, and what they have just – rather slyly – disclosed is that the status of BNC105 is “other”. Not the lead anti-cancer program but “other”. Your company has just demoted a “star” program (literally, according to the March deck) to the bottom of the heap and didn’t forthrightly tell you about it.
I hope it irritates you as much as it irritates me.
If it doesn’t irritate you, then you are genuinely too stupid to invest in public biotech equities. Actually – my dear punters – today you rewarded BNO with a 5% boost in stock price for deceiving you. Go figure…
Fortunately, tomorrow is another day.