The first confirmed case of Ebola in the U.S. drove stocks of Ebola drug makers higher, but airline stocks fell on concerns it could scare travelers. Fred Katayama reports.
The confirmation of the first case of Ebola in the U.S. heightened concerns that the virus could spread around the world. And that drove investors to scoop up stocks of makers of potential Ebola treatments. The U.S. is now considering using experimental drugs to treat that patient in Texas. Rocketing higher in early trading: stocks of the Canadian biotech firm, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals, BioCryst Pharmaceuticals, and Sarepta Therapeutics. RBC says Tekmira is the most advanced of the Ebola drug makers, and estimates future orders for TKM-Ebola could add $5-10 to its share price. Analyst Michael Yee said, "It is very possible the CDC may use Tekmira's drug to treat the U.S. patient or future patients, as the drug has been granted potential use by FDA for investigational use in Ebola patients in U.S. jurisdiction and Tekmira has already treated some patients in the U.S." BioCryst's BCX4430 drug, now in pre-clinical trials to treat hemorrhagic fevers, could potentially be used to treat Ebola. Piper Jaffray senior analyst Charles Duncan says a "black swan" scenario could drive the stock higher. Ebola can only be spread through bodily contact, not through the air. But concerns that the disease could scare travelers hurt airline stocks. United Continental, American Airlines, and Delta fell, as did discount carriers JetBlue and Southwest. Since breaking out this year in Guinea, the epidemic has killed more than 3000 people. The CDC warns that up to 1.4 million people could get infected by early next year.