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Biotech / Medical : Cardiome -- CRME
CRME 2.330-2.1%May 16 4:00 PM EDT

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From: Ian@SI4/2/2009 12:50:42 PM
   of 285
Insider selling: Another margin call

TORONTO (DOW JONES)--Cardiome Pharma Corp.'s (CRME) chairman and chief executive sold more Cardiome shares in March, once again because of margin calls.

According to insider-trading filings, Bob Rieder sold 37,000 shares between March 9 and March 18. Remarks for each of the trades say "securities sold upon broker decision pursuant to margin call based on pre-existing margin agreement."

In November, the company said Rieder was "subject to involuntary margin sales" totaling 45,000 Cardiome shares. At the time, Rieder said in a release that he was disappointed by the sales, but that his faith and confidence in Cardiome was "absolutely undiminished." The company had no comment on the most recent sales.

After the most recent sales, Rieder still owns about 140,000 shares.

Insider selling is generally frowned upon by investors, and Cardiome shareholders have a lot to be anxious about these days.

"There is a lot of uncertainty on the Street," said one analyst, adding that even though the sales are for personal reasons, investors don't like to see it, especially at such an "important juncture."

On Monday, the company released 2008 financials and said it would announce the timing of a conference call "within the next week" to discuss the results and provide a corporate update, which raised speculation it could be close to some type of deal.

About a year ago, Cardiome undertook a strategic review to help it find a partner for an oral form of its lead drug, vernakalent, a treatment for atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), or to possibly sell the company outright.

But some observers have been skeptical about its ability to succeed, given that the injectable form of vernakalent continues to be held up at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, despite an independent panel's recommendation for approval in December 2007. It received an approvable letter in August - six months later than expected - and held a meeting with the FDA in November. But there's been no news since then.

In Cardiome's annual information form filed this week, it said development partner Astellas Pharma Inc. (4503.TO) continues to work toward responding to the approvable letter, and it could result in Astellas submitting a complete response, appealing one or more of the "procedural or action issues" related to the submission, or conducting another study.

The analyst said the more time that passes, the more frustrated investors get. Although the stock has gained about 5% Wednesday and Thursday, it's still down more than 30% since the start of the year.

On Nasdaq Thursday, Cardiome is up 5 cents to $3.09.

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